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The Features Of The Common Keyboard

Sep 15, 2008
There is a great deal of difference between a musical synthesizer used by professional musicians and an electronic keyboard used by a typical amateur. While the former is an electronic instrument capable of producing a variety of sounds through the generation and combination of signals of varying frequencies, the latter is basically an inexpensive sampler. The difference between a sampler and a synthesizer is that a sampler does not create sounds from scratch, but rather starts with multiple recordings and plays them back in various sound configurations. Yet for many amateurs and practically all children, this is more than enough. Keyboards provide a great deal of relatively inexpensive entertainment for a great number of people, most of whom wouldn't know what to do with a real synthesizer if given the opportunity.

Keyboards have a number of potential features, and whether or not any given instrument includes them simply depends on the price. Some of these features improve a player's ability to control the speed or duration of a note, thereby making a keyboard sound more like a "real" instrument. Others are more technological in nature, such as the feature that permits two instrument sounds to be played at once, a feat that in the "real world," can only be accomplished by two actual separate instruments. All of the features are designed to improve the consumer appeal of the keyboard.

Touch response (also called Touch Sensitivity or Velocity) is not usually included in the least expensive keyboards, but it can usually be found on mid- and higher-range models. Pianos, which keyboards are often intended to imitate, are sensitive to the velocity at which their keys are pressed. That sensitivity produces louder notes for faster presses and softer notes for slower ones. Touch response imitates that sensitivity and its resultant note volumes.

After touch is a common keyboard feature. It allows for with sound modulation after a key has been hit, permitting the player to add effects such as fade away or return. The effect added is determined by the amount of pressure applied to the key. Such effects were particularly popular in the music of the late 1980s, which is when the feature was originally developed.

Polyphony is yet another effect that allows keyboards to mimic pianos. On the latter instruments, it is hypothetically possible to play every single note at the same time. Contrarily, less expensive keyboards, especially those designed for children, often permit only one note at a time to be played. Polyphony allows the artist to play more than one note at a time, sometimes more than ten at once on more expensive keyboard models.

The multi-timbre feature allows keyboards to go beyond the abilities of a piano and mimic more than one kind of instrument at a time. Some models are capable of "playing" up to eight different instruments at once.

The tempo feature determines the speed of rhythms, chords and other auto-generated content, or samples on electronic keyboards. The player is able to select a sample they wish to use with their own music and then alter the tempo accordingly. Needless to say, this is one of the more commonly used features of keyboards.
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 synthesizers, keyboards, sheet music, guitar tabs, and home theater audio.
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