The word “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument which produces sound by thepressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some manner, to facilitate the development of that sound. Using electric piano to produce music follows an inevitable evolutionary line from the 1st musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of such, initially created by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C., and referred to as hydraulis. The hydraulis produced sound by forcing air through reed pipes, and was powered through a manual water pump or a natural water source like a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the sole keyboard instrument. It often failed to include a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that were operated by using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance in the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300’s was accelerated by the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found in all keyboard instruments nowadays. The recognition in the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed by the development and widespread adoption of the piano inside the 18th century. The piano had been a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards since a pianist could vary the amount (or dynamics) in the sound the instrument created by varying the force that each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was another essential step in the development of the modern electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This is shortly accompanied by the “clavecin electrique” invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The previous instrument was made up of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later had been a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, that have been activated electrically.
While being electrified, neither the Denis d’or or even the clavecin used electricity being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument referred to as “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the first digital piano price. Gray found that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and thus invented a simple single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds through the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them over a telephone line. Grey proceeded to include an easy loudspeaker into his later models which was comprised of a diaphragm vibrating in a magnetic field, making the tone oscillator audible.
Lee De Forrest, the self-styled “Father Of Radio,” was the following major reason for the growth of the electronic keyboard. In 1906 he invented the triode electronic valve or “audion valve.” The audion valve was the initial thermionic valve or “vacuum tube,” and De Forrest built the very first vacuum tube instrument, the “Audion Piano,” in 1915. The vacuum tube became a necessary component of electronic instruments for the next half a century until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade from the 1920’s brought an abundance of new electronic instruments to the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
Another major breakthrough inside the history of electronic keyboards arrived in 1935 with the creation of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the initial electronic instrument capable of producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so till the invention from the Chamberlin Music Maker, as well as the Mellotron within the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and also the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards intended for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance within the 1940’s with all the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). It was a 3 along with a half octave instrument produced from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, “The 100.”
The rise of music synthesizers within the 1960’s gave a powerful push towards the evolution in the electronic musical keyboards we have now today. The initial synthesizers were extremely large, unwieldy machines used only in recording studios. The technological advancements and proliferation of miniaturized solid state components soon allowed the production of synthesizers that were self-contained, portable instruments capable of being utilized in live performances.
This began in 1964 when Bob Moog produced his “Moog Synthesizer.” Lacking a keyboard, the Moog Synthesizer had not been truly an electronic keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his “Minimoog,” a non-modular synthesizer having a built in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the style of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, like the Minimoog and also the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, capable of producing only one tone at any given time. A couple of, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (producing multiple simultaneous tones that allow for your playing of chords) was only obtainable, initially, using electronic organ designs. There was several electronic keyboards produced which combined organ izlcdl with synthesizer processing. These included Moog’s Polymoog, Opus 3, and the ARP Omni.
By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the appearance of polyphonic synthesizers such as the Oberheim Four-Voice, and the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The first truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first to use a microprocessor being a controller, and also allowed all knob settings to get saved in computer memory and recalled by just pushing some control. The Prophet-5’s design soon had become the new standard in the electronic keyboards industry.
The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) because the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to get connected into computers along with other devices for input and programming), as well as the ongoing portable digital piano have produced tremendous advancements in all elements of electronic keyboard design, construction, function, quality of sound, and cost. Today’s manufactures, like Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are producing a good amount of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and can continue to do so well into the foreseeable future.