Instruments with a Keyboard

In the world of keyboards everyone knows the piano and its derivatives, grand piano, upright piano. But we thought it would be fun to look at other instruments that also have keyboards.

Starting with the mechanical keyboards

Celesta

The world comes from the french word meaning “heavenly”. It sound is similar to a glockenspiel but softer and more refined. It looks like an upright piano with four octaves. Hammers, operated by the keys, strike metal plates to give that heavenly sound.

Clavichord

These instruments were small in size, compared to pianos and so weren’t very loud. The sound is produced by blades striking iron or brass strings. Very popular in the 16th,17th and 18th centuries

Harpsichord

Harpsichord

Looking much like a piano, the harpsichord plucks rather that strike the string. Which means that unlike a piano where the pianist can play both loud and softer sounds, the harpsichord, plays with one intensity, no matter how hard one strikes the key.

Harmonium

This a small organ where the player operates foot pedals to pump air through the instrument. Thin metal reeds produce the sound via a keyboard, which controls the airflow.

Accordion

A hand held instrument, the accordion comprises of a set of bellows which blow air over a set of metal reeds which vibrate. The player flexes the instrument which generates the sound. The keyboard down one side plays the melody, the buttons on the other side plays the base.

synthesizerSymthesizer

These use a keyboard as electronic switches. The switching is processed using microprocessors and converted into sound through a speaker, or recorded by electronic means.

Sounds or samples can be altered so that many variations are possible. Synths can mimic other instruments or natural sounds, such as whale song. Alternatively completely new sounds can be invented and played through the synth.

Dictionary of keyboard instruments