Modern Instruments – Keyboards
The harpsichord and the clavichord were both very common until the widespread adoption of the piano in the 18th century, after which their popularity decreased. The piano was revolutionary because a pianist could vary the volume (or dynamics) of the sound by varying the vigor with which each key was struck. Bartolomeo Cristofori is credited with building the first piano, in the early 18th century. A double-escapement was introduced by Sebastien Erard in 1821; this allowed fast repetition to be made. Using a cast-iron frame instead of a wooden one was important; as it permitted the use of heavier strings whose tension demanded the strength of a metal frame. These thicker strings gave greater volume and brilliance to the piano. Introduced by Alphaeus Babcock in 1830, cross stringing allowed the strings to fan out over a larger section of the soundboard, again giving more resonance and relieving the crowding of the strings. Today, the piano typically comes in two standard shapes: the grand piano and the upright piano, in which the sounding board is inverted vertically ,thus making it more compact.
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound when pressurized air (referred to as wind) is driven through a series of pipes. The admission of wind into the pipes is controlled by a keyboard. A pipe sounds when a key is depressed on the keyboard, allowing wind to pass through the pipe. Modern organs usually include one or more keyboards playable by the hands and one keyboard playable by the feet. Each keyboard controls a certain number of pipes. Pipe organs are found in churches and synagogues, as well as secular town halls and art buildings, where they are used for the performance of classical music.
An accordion is a musical instrument of the hand-held bellows-driven free reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. The accordion is played by compressing and expanding the bellows, while pressing buttons or keys to allow air to flow across reeds, thereby producing tones and chords.
The celesta is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard. Its appearance is similar to that of an upright piano (four- or five-octave) or of a large wooden music box (three-octave). The keys are connected to hammers which strike a graduated set of metal (usually steel) plates suspended over wooden resonators. One pedal is usually available to sustain or dampen the sound, on four or five octave models.
An electronic piano is a keyboard instrument designed to simulate the timbre of a piano (and sometimes a harpsichord or an organ) using analog circuitry. Electronic pianos work similarly to analog synthesizers in that they generate their tones through oscillators, whereas electric pianos are mechanical, their sound being electrified by a pickup.
An electronic organ is an electronic keyboard instrument originally designed to imitate the sound of a pipe organ. It has developed today into two forms of the instrument, the digital church organ that imitates a pipe organ for classical music and use in churches, and the Hammond organ-style instrument used in more popular music genres.
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing a variety of sounds by generating and combining signals of different frequencies. A modern digital synthesizer uses a frequency synthesizer microprocessor component to calculate mathematical functions, which generate signals of different frequencies. There are three main types of synthesizers, which differ in operation: analog, digital, and software-based. Synthesizers create electrical signals, rather than direct acoustic sounds, which are then amplified through a loudspeaker or set of headphones. Synthesizers are typically controlled with a piano-style keyboard, in which each key functions as a switch to turn electronic circuits on and off.