Electronic Keyboards

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The Electronic Keyboard

An electronic musical keyboard comprises a set of adjacent levers or keys on a "board" which resembles a piano. More often they will 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. Depressing a key on the keyboard causes the instrument to produce sounds as it connects a circuit.

Electronic keyboards will sometimes include auto accompaniment / chord recognition which is used to trigger specific chords that will sound when a single key is pressed on the electronic keyboard. E.g. when the auto accompaniment feature is on, and the performer presses a "C" note in the low range of the keyboard, the auto accompaniment feature will play a C Major chord. In many electronic keyboards, the auto accompaniment feature will play the automatic chords in a rhythm and style that is appropriate for the musical style (e.g., rock, pop, hip-hop) selected by the performer; when turned on, the auto-chords will be played automatically in the tempo of the rhythm track selected.

Most electronic keyboards will also have pre-programmed demo songs to demonstrate the capabilities of the keyboard, in terms of its different voices and effects.

Touch sensitivity comes at a price. The more basic models provide "on-off" switches whereas the higher-range instruments simulate stringed instrument sensitivity; here the electronic keyboard senses when the key pressed and then released and uses this (and other electronic devices) to mange "sensitvity". Some sophisticated touch-sensitive systems have several samples of an acoustic instrument note per key (e.g., a soft strike, a mid-level strike, and a hard strike). Some touch sensitive electronic keyboards can also be modulated to provide additional embelishments such as "fade away", "vibrato" and "sustain".

Electronic keyboards can also produce mutiple notes at the same time (produced by the sound generator) which provides for a smoother transition between notes; whereas the cheaper toy electronic keyboards, designed for children, only play one note at a time. The better-quality electronic keyboards generate mutiple notes with 32 or 64 notes being common.

Pre-programmed musical accompaniment styles/rhythm are often provided. These vary but will typically include; pop, rock, jazz, country, etc. In general, accompaniment styles usually imitates the sound of a full band or an orchestra however additional features can also be included in the electronic keyboard to assist with accompaniment; these will vary by model and price.

Tempo control is also a feature to manage the speed at which the rythmn and accompaniment operate; this can be set on the electronic keyboard. Some electronic keyboards will include audio or visual metronomes to help players keep time.