Musical keyboard

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This article is about keyboards on musical instruments. Musical keyboard_sentence_0

For instruments referred to as "keyboards", see Keyboard instrument. Musical keyboard_sentence_1

A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers or keys on a musical instrument. Musical keyboard_sentence_2

Keyboards typically contain keys for playing the twelve notes of the Western musical scale, with a combination of larger, longer keys and smaller, shorter keys that repeats at the interval of an octave. Musical keyboard_sentence_3

Depressing a key on the keyboard makes the instrument produce sounds—either by mechanically striking a string or tine (acoustic and electric piano, clavichord), plucking a string (harpsichord), causing air to flow through a pipe organ, striking a bell (carillon), or, on electric and electronic keyboards, completing a circuit (Hammond organ, digital piano, synthesizer). Musical keyboard_sentence_4

Since the most commonly encountered keyboard instrument is the piano, the keyboard layout is often referred to as the piano keyboard. Musical keyboard_sentence_5

Description Musical keyboard_section_0

The twelve notes of the Western musical scale are laid out with the lowest note on the left; The longer keys (for the seven "natural" notes of the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B) forward. Musical keyboard_sentence_6

Because these keys were traditionally covered in ivory they are often called the white notes or white keys. Musical keyboard_sentence_7

The keys for the remaining five notes—which are not part of the C major scale—(i.e., C♯/D♭, D♯/E♭, F♯/G♭, G♯/A♭, A♯/B♭) (see Sharp and Flat) are raised and shorter. Musical keyboard_sentence_8

Because these keys receive less wear, they are often made of black colored wood and called the black notes or black keys. Musical keyboard_sentence_9

The pattern repeats at the interval of an octave. Musical keyboard_sentence_10

The arrangement of longer keys for C major with intervening, shorter keys for the intermediate semitones dates to the 15th century. Musical keyboard_sentence_11

Many keyboard instruments dating from before the nineteenth century, such as harpsichords and pipe organs, have a keyboard with the colours of the keys reversed: the white notes are made of ebony and the black notes are covered with softer white bone. Musical keyboard_sentence_12

A few electric and electronic instruments from the 1960s and subsequent decades have also done this; Vox's electronic organs of the 1960s, Farfisa's FAST portable organs, Hohner's Clavinet L, one version of Korg's Poly-800 synthesizer and Roland's digital harpsichords. Musical keyboard_sentence_13

Some 1960s electronic organs used reverse colors or gray sharps or naturals to indicate the lower part (or parts) of a single keyboard divided into two parts, each controlling a different registration or sound. Musical keyboard_sentence_14

Such keyboards accommodate melody and contrasting accompaniment without the expense of a second manual, and were a regular feature in Spanish and some English organs of the renaissance and baroque eras. Musical keyboard_sentence_15

The break was between middle C and C-sharp, or outside of Iberia between B and C. Broken keyboards reappeared in 1842 with the harmonium, the split occurring at E4/F4. Musical keyboard_sentence_16

The reverse-colored keys on Hammond organs such as the B3, C3 and A100 are latch-style radio buttons for selecting pre-set sounds. Musical keyboard_sentence_17

Size and historical variation Musical keyboard_section_1

The chromatic range (also called ) of keyboard instruments has tended to increase. Musical keyboard_sentence_18

Harpsichords often extended over five octaves (61+ keys) in the 18th century, while most pianos manufactured since about 1870 have 88 keys. Musical keyboard_sentence_19

The lowest pitch (frequency: 27.5 Hz) of an 88-key piano is equivalent to a sub contrabass in the range name. Musical keyboard_sentence_20

Some modern pianos have even more notes (a Bösendorfer 290 "Imperial" has 97 keys and a Stuart & Sons model has 108 keys). Musical keyboard_sentence_21

While modern synthesizer keyboards commonly have either 61, 76 or 88 keys, small MIDI controllers are available with 25 notes. Musical keyboard_sentence_22

(Digital systems allow shifting octaves, pitch, and "splitting" ranges dynamically, which, in some cases, reduce the need for dedicated keys. Musical keyboard_sentence_23

However, smaller keyboards will typically limit which musical scores can be played.) Musical keyboard_sentence_24

Organs normally have 61 keys per manual, though some spinet models have 44 or 49. Musical keyboard_sentence_25

An organ pedalboard is a keyboard with long pedals played by the organist's feet. Musical keyboard_sentence_26

Pedalboards vary in size from 12 to 32 notes. Musical keyboard_sentence_27

In a typical keyboard layout, black note keys have uniform width, and white note keys have uniform width and uniform spacing at the front of the keyboard. Musical keyboard_sentence_28

In the larger gaps between the black keys, the width of the natural notes C, D and E differ slightly from the width of keys F, G, A and B. Musical keyboard_sentence_29

This allows close to uniform spacing of 12 keys per octave while maintaining uniformity of seven "natural" keys per octave. Musical keyboard_sentence_30

Over the last three hundred years, the octave span distance found on historical keyboard instruments (organs, virginals, clavichords, harpsichords, and pianos) has ranged from as little as 125 mm (4.9 in) to as much as 170 mm (6.7 in). Musical keyboard_sentence_31

Modern piano keyboards ordinarily have an octave span of 164–165 mm (6.5–6.5 in); resulting in the width of black keys averaging 13.7 mm (0.54 in) and white keys about 23.5 mm (0.93 in) wide at the base, disregarding space between keys. Musical keyboard_sentence_32

Several reduced-size standards have been proposed and marketed. Musical keyboard_sentence_33

A 15/16 size (152 mm (6.0 in) octave span) and the 7/8 DS Standard (140 mm (5.5 in) octave span) keyboard developed by Christopher Donison in the 1970s and developed and marketed by Steinbuhler & Company. Musical keyboard_sentence_34

U.S. pianist Hannah Reimann has promoted piano keyboards with narrower octave spans and has a U.S. patent on the apparatus and methods for modifying existing pianos to provide interchangeable keyboards of different sizes. Musical keyboard_sentence_35

There have been variations in the design of the keyboard to address technical and musical issues. Musical keyboard_sentence_36

The earliest designs of keyboards were based heavily on the notes used in Gregorian chant (the seven diatonic notes plus B-flat) and as such would often include B♭ and B♮ both as diatonic "white notes," with the B♮ at the leftmost side of the keyboard and the B♭ at the rightmost. Musical keyboard_sentence_37

Thus, an octave would have eight "white keys" and only four "black keys." Musical keyboard_sentence_38

The emphasis on these eight notes would continue for a few centuries after the "seven and five" system was adopted, in the form of the short octave: the eight aforementioned notes were arranged at the leftmost side of the keyboard, compressed in the keys between E and C (at the time, accidentals that low were very uncommon and thus not needed). Musical keyboard_sentence_39

During the sixteenth century, when instruments were often tuned in meantone temperament, some harpsichords were constructed with the G♯ and E♭ keys split into two. Musical keyboard_sentence_40

One portion of the G♯ key operated a string tuned to G♯ and the other operated a string tuned to A♭, similarly one portion of the E♭ key operated a string tuned to E♭, the other portion operating a string tuned to D♯. Musical keyboard_sentence_41

This type of keyboard layout, known as the enharmonic keyboard, extended the flexibility of the harpsichord, enabling composers to write keyboard music calling for harmonies containing the so-called wolf fifth (G-sharp to E-flat), but without producing aural discomfort in the listeners (see: Split sharp). Musical keyboard_sentence_42

The "broken octave," a variation of the aforementioned short octave, similarly used split keys to add accidentals left out of the short octave. Musical keyboard_sentence_43

Other examples of variations in keyboard design include the Jankó keyboard and the chromatic keyboard systems on the chromatic button accordion and bandoneón. Musical keyboard_sentence_44

Electronic keyboards Musical keyboard_section_2

Simpler electronic keyboards have switches under each key. Musical keyboard_sentence_45

Depressing a key connects a circuit, which triggers tone generation. Musical keyboard_sentence_46

Most keyboards use a keyboard matrix circuit, in which eight rows and eight columns of wires cross — thus, 16 wires can provide (8x8=) 64 crossings, which the keyboard controller scans to determine which key was pressed. Musical keyboard_sentence_47

The problem with this system is that it provides only a crude binary on/off signal for each key. Musical keyboard_sentence_48

Better electronic keyboards employ two sets of switches for each key that are slightly offset. Musical keyboard_sentence_49

By determining the timing between the activation of the first and second switches, the velocity of a key press can be determined — greatly improving the performance dynamic of a keyboard. Musical keyboard_sentence_50

The best electronic keyboards have dedicated circuits for each key, providing polyphonic aftertouch. Musical keyboard_sentence_51

Advanced electronic keyboards may provide hundreds of key touch levels and have 88 keys, as most pianos do. Musical keyboard_sentence_52

Playing techniques Musical keyboard_section_3

Despite their visual similarity, different keyboard instrument types require different techniques. Musical keyboard_sentence_53

The piano hammer mechanism produces a louder note the faster the key is pressed, while the harpsichord's plectrum mechanism does not perceptibly vary the volume of the note with different touch on the keyboard. Musical keyboard_sentence_54

The pipe organ's volume and timbre are controlled by the flow of air from the bellows and the stops preselected by the player. Musical keyboard_sentence_55

Players of these instruments therefore use different techniques to color the sound. Musical keyboard_sentence_56

An arranger keyboard may be preset to produce any of a range of voices as well as percussion and other accompaniments that respond to chords played by the left hand. Musical keyboard_sentence_57

Even though the keyboard layout is simple and all notes are easily accessible, playing requires skill. Musical keyboard_sentence_58

A proficient player has undertaken much training to play accurately and in tempo. Musical keyboard_sentence_59

Beginners seldom produce a passable rendition of even a simple piece due to lack of . Musical keyboard_sentence_60

The sequences of movements of the player's hands can be very complicated. Musical keyboard_sentence_61

Problems include wide-spanned chords, which can be difficult for people with small hands, chords requiring unusual hand positions that can initially be uncomfortable, and fast scales, trills and arpeggios. Musical keyboard_sentence_62

Playing instruments with velocity sensitive (or dynamic) keyboards (i.e., that respond to varying playing velocity) may require finger independence, so that some fingers play "harder" while others play more softly. Musical keyboard_sentence_63

Pianists call this control of touch velocity voicing (not to be confused with a piano technician's "voicing" of a piano by modifying the hardness of the hammers). Musical keyboard_sentence_64

Keyboardists speak of playing harder and softer, or with more or less force. Musical keyboard_sentence_65

This may accurately describe the player's experience—but in the mechanics of the keyboard, velocity controls musical dynamics. Musical keyboard_sentence_66

The faster the player depresses the key, the louder the note. Musical keyboard_sentence_67

Players must learn to coordinate two hands and use them independently. Musical keyboard_sentence_68

Most music is written for two hands; typically the right hand plays the melody in the treble range, while the left plays an accompaniment of bass notes and chords in the bass range. Musical keyboard_sentence_69

Examples of music written for the left hand alone include several of Leopold Godowsky's 53 Studies on Chopin's Etudes, Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand and Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. Musical keyboard_sentence_70 4 for the left hand. Musical keyboard_sentence_71

In music that uses counterpoint technique, both hands play different melodies at the same time. Musical keyboard_sentence_72

Other uses Musical keyboard_section_4

A number of percussion instruments—such as the xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, or glockenspiel— have pitched elements arranged in the keyboard layout. Musical keyboard_sentence_73

Rather than depress a key, the performer typically strikes each element (bell, metal or wood bar, etc.) with a mallet. Musical keyboard_sentence_74

There are some examples of a musical keyboard layout used for non-musical devices. Musical keyboard_sentence_75

For example, some of the earliest printing telegraph machines used a layout similar to a piano keyboard. Musical keyboard_sentence_76

Keyboards with alternative sets of keys Musical keyboard_section_5

There are some rare variations of keyboards with more or fewer than 12 keys per octave, mostly used in microtonal music, after the discoveries and theoretical developments of musician and inventor Julián Carrillo (1875–1965). Musical keyboard_sentence_77

Some free-reed instrument keyboards such as accordions and Indian harmoniums include microtones. Musical keyboard_sentence_78

Electronic music pioneer Pauline Oliveros played one of these. Musical keyboard_sentence_79

Egyptian belly-dance musicians like Hassam Ramzy use custom-tuned accordions so they can play traditional scales. Musical keyboard_sentence_80

The small Garmon accordion played in the Music of Azerbaijan sometimes has keys that can play microtones when a "shift" key is pressed. Musical keyboard_sentence_81

See also Musical keyboard_section_6

Musical keyboard_unordered_list_0


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical keyboard.