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English:  electronic keyboard
Yamaha DJX.jpg
classification Electrophone
keyboard instrument
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / parameter range missing
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / sound sample parameters missing Related instruments

Piano , electric organ

Category: keyboard player
Example Casio keyboard sound

A keyboard ( engl . Electronic keyboard ) (of English. Keyboard [ kiːbɔːd ]: keyboard) in the broader sense is from the electronic piano and organs product derived electrostatic phones keyboard instrument whose tone electro-mechanically , electronically or digitally generated and amplified.

In a narrower sense, a keyboard only refers to those instruments which typically have 61 keys derived from the organ keyboard and the characteristic feature of an automatic accompaniment , the arranger keyboards . Players of this instrument in front of an audience are often called "solo entertainers" or " entertainers ".

Since the further definition does not allow a differentiated differentiation to the electronic pianos , synthesizers or home organs in terms of sound generation and equipment due to the historical development , reference is mostly made today to the narrower one. In linguistic usage, keyboard is occasionally used for master keyboards and generally for all electronic keyboard instruments as anglicism in its original meaning. In the names of the instrumentalists in a band, “keyboarder” stands for all players of a keyboard instrument that is not a piano or grand piano.

Keyboards in the narrower sense are smaller and lighter than this due to the less extensive and lighter keyboard compared to an electric piano, from which the English term portable keyboard is derived. Making music with the automatic accompaniment requires a different playing concept and the organ keyboard a different playing technique than a piano. For this reason, a keyboard is very different from an electronic piano or a piano .

Structure of the keyboard

The main criterion and advantage of a keyboard is its easy portability and compactness. At first glance, the keyboard of a keyboard looks similar to that of a piano , but it differs considerably from pianos or grand pianos in terms of touch and feel. Since the keys do not normally operate any mechanics, but only have to establish electrical contact , the keyboard requires considerably less effort. This can be irritating when switching from or to the piano. This is because the keyboard is derived from the organ, via the electronic organs, and not from the piano.

The number of buttons varies from model to model. Up to 88 keys are possible, i.e. the range of a conventional piano. In the field of portable keyboards, however, 76-, 61- or 49-key keyboards are mostly used. The key width normally corresponds to the standardized piano keyboard (16.5 cm per octave), with simple beginner keyboards there are also narrower keys (14 cm per octave). A typical keyboard today has 61 keys.

In contrast to the piano, there are various operating elements on a keyboard, such as buttons, knobs or sliders to control the functions of the keyboard. Most keyboards also have a display that shows the current settings. For this, segment displays , advanced LCD displays or full graphic TFT screens used. Many keyboards, especially in the home keyboard area, also have built-in loudspeakers, so that no additional systems are required. These are sometimes also battery-operated. On the back of the keyboards there are usually sockets for a power connection, one or more audio connections, MIDI connections and connections for pedals (e.g. sustain or piano pedal). Some keyboards have a floppy - CD - or memory card nlaufwerk, with which it is possible to add additional sounds , styles for auto accompaniment or songs in MIDI format as presets to load into internal memory.

The built-in loudspeakers in a keyboard are mostly designed for room volume. If you want to play very loud, you have to make sure that there are connection sockets for an external amplifier when buying a keyboard. As a rule, a headphone output also fulfills this function.

Sound generation on an electronic keyboard

When a keyboard key is pressed, a tone is generated in a special electronic system with the traditionally assigned pitch and influenced with an ADSR envelope according to the duration of the key press. The sound source can be a classic oscillator circuit or a sample , among other things . The sound can also be influenced with the effects built into the keyboard .

Due to limited electronic performance, the number of individual tones that can be generated simultaneously can vary greatly. Simple toy keyboards can be monophonic when an auto accompaniment is used.

Connection to a computer

Almost all keyboards these days come with a MIDI interface. There are two technical versions of it. Either you connect the keyboard to the MIDI input of the sound card using a MIDI cable or, as is common today, directly to a USB input on the computer using a USB cable. However, this connection is not used to transmit music, but rather MIDI commands (note-on, note-off, program change, etc.), which are first converted into sounds on the PC side by a corresponding sequencer or synthesizer program have to. There are two reasons to connect a keyboard to a PC:

1. Recording: You can record, save and reuse your own playing as a MIDI note sequence. This also enables multi-track MIDI files (= electronic sheet music) to be created so that an entire orchestra can be set up. You can also create wave files (= audio files) that can be saved or burned to CD.

2. You can control a software synthesizer with the keyboard and thus vastly expand the sound and effect options. Soft synthesizers such as Cubase, Studio One, Sonar, Music Producer, Synthesizer Workstation or Ableton fulfill both functions.


The history of electronic keyboard instruments began in 1885 when Edward Norton Lorenz made the first usable electromechanical instrument. Twelve years later Thaddeus Cahill presented the Dynamophon , the first synthesizer that only delivered sine tones . In 1906 the electron tube was invented, the basis for many modern instruments. Friedrich Trautwein then invented the Trautonium in 1924 . In 1934 Laurens Hammond created a Hammond organ . Their sound synthesis is also based on sinus tones; but these are mixed together in different octaves ( footprint ) and result in a complex sound on each key. The first voltage-controlled synthesizer was invented by Robert Moog , and the Minimoog followed in 1970. In the 1980s, the keyboard that is used today established itself through the new possibilities of digital sound generation. The electric piano became popular with the advent of the sampling technique in the 1990s. Also in the 1990s, the first keyboards for laypeople in the low price segment were brought onto the market. Today there is a wide range of models from different manufacturers that cover different needs.

Use in music

Today, keyboards are mostly used to simulate traditional or historical electronic instruments or to combine the sounds of several of these instruments. You can use them in a band, for example, or in another way.


The widespread home keyboard is often used in home music and music education . Higher-quality keyboards often equipped with convenient programming capability, are often used by solo entertainers used mostly in the field of dance - and popular music . With the extended MIDI functions, a complete band can be simulated automatically. The necessary MIDI arrangements are created by the musician himself or can be purchased. In the recording studio , so-called “ master keyboards ” or “workstations” support the musician in composing or producing pieces of music.


Keyboards are used in a wide variety of music genres. In a professional environment, the keyboard player usually uses several specialized devices, such as synthesizers , e-piano , sampler or Hammond organ . The keyboard forms the harmonious foundation of a piece of music in many styles.


Many professional keyboard players received their training on the piano or the organ . Many music educators recommend starting out on an acoustic keyboard instrument. Nevertheless, primary training on the portable keyboard is now possible in many music schools.

Functions of the electronic keyboard

Compared to the piano, keyboards have various additional functions. These are available depending on the user specifications and the price range of the keyboard and can vary greatly in quality. These can include:

  • Synthetic generation of real instrument sounds and selected electronic synthesizer sounds
  • Controllable accompaniment through drum and instrument sounds of a combo
  • Internal storage (recording) and playback of played music data ("tape function" for music performance)
  • Creation of arpeggios from played chords
  • Function for learning songs with the help of programmed illuminated keys
  • Playing and sharing files in MIDI format

Digital pianos are sometimes equipped with various keyboard functions or designed directly as a hybrid.


Here is a list of the most famous keyboard manufacturers:

  • Yamaha , Japan : by far the largest manufacturer of keyboards; entire product range, from the entry-level model to the middle class to instruments for professional use
  • Roland , Japan: currently only two models in the entry-level and mid-range segment
  • Korg , Japan: middle class and professional sector.
  • Ketron, Ancona , Italy , founded in 1981. Company objective: Products for solo entertainers and amateurs; Mid-range and professional keyboards. Specialty: button keyboards and sound modules
  • Casio , Japan: Specialty: low-price instruments in the entry-level segment.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Keyboard  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations