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The Electronic Keyboard: And Endless Influence

Sep 5, 2008
I remember when my family bought our electric keyboard. I must have been about ten years old, and I remember thinking that our family was going to be the coolest one on the block. All the different sounds it could make! All the different beats it could produce! I was sure that I'd be producing professional-sounding music in no time. Of course, as I soon found out, there's more to playing an electric keyboard that just fiddling around with the buttons and keys. I soon lost interest in the instrument when it became evident that I'd have to put actual work into learning to play it. Fortunately, many real musicians the world over have had more perseverance than me, and they have used electronic keyboards to stretch the boundaries of modern music.

An electronic keyboard, or more accurately, a synthesizer, produces a wide variety of sounds by generating and combining signals of different frequencies. These frequencies are transmuted into electrical signals, which are then amplified through speakers. Not surprisingly, the electronic keyboard has its roots in instruments like the piano and the harpsichord, instruments that have existed for hundreds of years. The modern synthesizer, however, only came into existence in the mid-1970s, about thirty years ago. Since that time, electric keyboards have had an incalculable effect on the music industry and culture.

When famous artists like Stevie Wonder and popular bands like Duran Duran began to make regular use of this instrument, its place in the music industry became an accepted fact. Indeed, the synthesizer is credited with the emergence of the Synthpop music genre, a subgenre of New Wave, during the late 1970s and mid-1980s. Certainly, some of the most popular songs of the 1980s feature the sounds of the synthesizer, songs like Tainted Love by Soft Cell, Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode, and of course, that anthem of the 80s, Whip It by Devo.

The synthesizer has had a significant impact on the average American as well as the gods of rock and roll. Mine was not the only family purchase an electronic keyboard; for average mortals, the appeal of the instrument lies in its comparative affordability and reasonable size as compared to a traditional, full-size piano. Many parents have purchased electronic keyboards in the hopes that their children would follow in the footsteps of pianists like Mozart, Vladimir Horowitz, or Elton John.

The broad applicability of the electronic keyboard is another of its principle assets. In its most traditional role, it can function as a stand-in for a traditional piano. But, as bands like Culture Club and Depeche Mode have proven, the synthesizer can be made to produce some of the most outre music ever heard by the human ear. You would be hard pressed to find a music genre that does not avail itself of the electronic keyboard's seemingly inexhaustible array of sounds. In fact, it is interesting to wonder, but at the same time difficult to imagine, what the modern music industry would be like without this instrument.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, keyboards, sheet music, guitar tab, and home theater audio. You can find the best marketplace at these sites for keyboards, synthesizers, sheet music, guitar tabs, and subwoofers.
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