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Key People:PrinceHerbie HancockYanniBrian EnoRay Manzarek...(Show more)Related Topics:organcarillonpianoelectronic organmusic synthesizer...(Show more)

keyboard instrument, any musical instrument on which various notes deserve to be sounded by pushing a collection of keys, press buttons, or parallel levers. In virtually all instances in western music the keys correspond to consecutive note in the chromatic scale, and also they run from the base at the left come the treble in ~ the right.


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This big group that instruments has actually assumed good importance because the keyboard enables a performer to play countless notes in ~ once and in close succession. This versatility allows the modern pianist or organist to play, in transcription, any type of work of western music, even if it is it requires chordal harmonies, elevation contrapuntal parts, or only a single melody. The ability of key-board instruments have actually influenced the ingredient of music for other media, since virtually every major composer from wilhelm Byrd (c. 1543–1623) to Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) and also beyond has been at least an completed keyboard performer, if no a famous virtuoso. The evolution of one idiomatic key-board compositional layout has been linked to technical and theoretical advancements within Western urban culture; keyboard instruments are no normally connected with people music, and only during the 20th century has their use spread widely external the west world.


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In the broadest sense, the term keyboard instrument might be applied to any kind of instrument equipped with a keyboard and thus might be used to refer to accordions, percussion tools such as the celesta and also the carillon, and also many digital instruments—for example, the Moog synthesizer (see photograph) and also the Ondes Martenot. In a narrow sense, such together is to work in this discussion, the ax is limited to tools in which sound is produced from strings, whether by plucking, striking, or rubbing, or native pipes or reeds.

Development that the keyboard

Evolution from at an early stage forms

Long before the figure of the an initial stringed keyboard tools in the 14th century, the keyboard was developed and also applied come the organ. A key-board of the kind familiar today—a series of parallel levers hinged or pivoted so the they can be thrust down by the fingers—first appeared on the hydraulus, an organ probably designed in Alexandria in the late third century bc. This type of keyboard seems to have disappeared ~ the fall of the roman Empire, and the organs of the early on Middle eras generally had actually sliders that were pulled out to sound various notes; some may have had keys the turned prefer the vital for a lock. Tricks of the last kind were definitely used top top the organistrum, a huge medieval hurdy-gurdy activate by 2 players: one turned a crank rotating a wheel that rubbed versus one or much more strings to do them sound, when the other produced different note by turning the key-shaped levers that quit the strings at various points (much as guitar strings space stopped versus the fingerboard).

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Some small portable organs had push buttons instead of secrets as late together the 1440s, yet a key-board resembling the modern kind existed in the 14th century, back the arrangement of naturals and also sharps (corresponding come the white and black keys on the modern-day piano) to be only progressively standardized. The arrangement of the keys depended in component on the music played and also partly top top the current state of musical theory. Thus, beforehand keyboards space reported with just a solitary raised vital in each octave (B♭), and also there to be organs that had actually both B and also B♭ together “natural” keys, through C♯, D♯, F♯, and G♯ as raised keys. The colours of the keys—white because that naturals and also black for sharps—became standardized lot later, about 1800, depending upon fashion or ~ above the relative price of such products as bone, ivory, or boxwood for the “white” keys and stained hardwood or ebony because that the “black” keys. Flemish instruments had actually bone naturals and also oak sharps through 1580; French and also German instruments had ebony or fruitwood naturals and also bone or ivory sharps until the 1790s.