DDV Music - Music Information and Education

Electronic Keyboard

An electronic keyboard instrument
An electronic keyboard instrument

An electronic keyboard is any keyboard instrument which uses electronics to produce its sound. Professional electronic musical instruments which are traditionally equipped with a keyboard include electric pianos, synthesizers, samplers, electronic organs, and digital pianos. However, musicians generally refer to these instruments by name or simply as keyboards, reserving the term electronic keyboard for keyboard instruments marketed to amateur musicians and children. Such instruments are typically inexpensive, smaller, and lack many features offered by professional instruments. They can generally be purchased in electronics stores side by side with stereos, video games, cells phones, etc., or even in toy stores.

Internal architecture

To facilitate the engineering processes of design and development of electronic keyboards, they are internally divided into some major components which can be connected together by the mean of industry standards. These parts include:

  • Musical keyboard: This is an electro-mechanical component which is used for playing.
  • User interface software: A program (usually embedded in a chip) which handle user interaction with control keys and menus.
  • Rhythm & Chord generator: This part which is again in the form of software program produces rhythms and chords by the mean of MIDI commands.
  • Sound generator: It's exactly like a sound module which is capable of accepting MIDI commands and producing sounds accordingly.

Functions and features

  • Auto accompaniment
  • Effects
  • Demonstration
  • MIDI: Many electronic keyboard instruments are outfitted with a MIDI interface for the purpose of controlling (or being controlled) by another device with a MIDI interface. There are also keyboards which are not instruments at all, but are merely MIDI controllers which are used to control other MIDI instruments, which may or may not have a human interface of their own.

Concepts and definitions

  • Touch response: : To simulate the process of sound generation in chordophones that are sensitive to the velocity of key press, a technology which is usually known as auto-accompaniment is used. For implementation two sensors are installed for each key: a sensor detects whenever a key is beginning to be pressed and the other fired when the key is pressed completely. By a time reference a device can estimate the velocity of pressure. As the key mass is constant this velocity can also be considered as the strength of key press. Based on this value, the sound generator produces the proper sound.
  • After touch
  • Polyphony: In digital music terminology and electronic keyboards, polyphony means the number of concurrent notes that can be played at the same time.
  • Tempo: This is a parameter that determines the speed of rhythms, chords and other auto-generated content on electronic keyboards. The unit of this parameter is beats per second.
  • Split point
  • Style
  • Synchronization

Parts and controls

  • Foot pedal/switch
  • Modulation wheel
  • Pads
  • Pitch bend: This control is usually in the form of a wheel located on the left side of the keyboard that is used to shift the frequency of the note being played up or down. The amount of this frequency change is adjustable in some keyboards but it's usually between one and two semitones up or down. The origin of this control is not from keyboard instruments, but from some string instruments like guitar in which the player can increase the frequency by pushing the string aside.

List of manufacturers

  • Alesis
  • Casio
  • Ensoniq
  • GEM
  • Kawai
  • Korg
  • Kurzweil Music Systems
  • Roland
  • Yamaha

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Document License
It uses material from the Wikipedia article - Electronic keyboard