Keyboard Instruments

Broadly speaking, keyboard instruments are musical instruments you play with a keyboard. The most popular examples are pianos, organs, and electronic keyboards, such as synthesizers and digital pianos. They also include celestas and carillons, for instance.

The term keyboard is often describes keyboard-style synthesizers. And the player can use the keyboard itself to control several components. These include expression, shading, phrasing, dynamics, and articulation. Keeping this in mind, we will detail some of the most popular keyboard instruments in the following paragraphs.

Some Keyboard Instruments

The Organ

Keyboards are present throughout all the history of music. The organ is the oldest and most interesting one overall. It has three essential pieces: (several) pipes, an artificial wind supply, and a key mechanism. The key mechanism can open and close the individual pipes. The first known keyboard instrument was the Ancient Greek hydraulis. This was a type of pipe organ that musicians played with a light touch—and the only keyboard instrument until the fourteenth century. Most organs had buttons or large levers, which the person in charge operated with their whole hand, although not a keyboard per se.

The Piano

Both the clavichord and the harpsichord appeared during the fourteenth century. They were quite common until the piano became popular. In the eighteenth century, the piano came to fame because the player could vary the volume and the dynamics of each sound. Modern pianos are significantly different from these first known ones.

Keyboard instruments developed over the course of the early twentieth century and electromechanical instruments appeared. This progress was a great contribution to the history of keyboards. Although the timbre is not the same, the electric piano and the electronic piano are instruments that sound similar to a traditional one. Plus, it lacks its weight and size (which is a bonus!). Modern electronic keyboards try to mimic the sounds of traditional pianos by using digital samples and computer models. Acoustic keyboards can have between sixty-one and eighty-eight keys.