How the Keyboard was Born out of the Piano

6th September 2017
electric keyboard

Even in prehistoric times, mankind recognised that a vibrating string can produce sound. It’s been seen that strings were attached and stretched over bows and boxes to amplify the sound and they were plucked or struck to produce sounds.


In the 14th century, several versions of a closed, shallow box with stretched wires which represented a piano were invented. These, however, were restricted to a constant volume and its softness and loudness couldn’t be changed while playing. This meant that performing artists could not deliver the same level of musical expression as that of most other instruments. The need for more control over the volume of the instrument led directly to the invention of the piano, where the artist could adjust the volume and tone simply by the force of their fingers.


The story of the piano as we know it began in 1709, in Padua, Italy where it was initially named gravicembalo col piano e forte and eventually, it was shortened to fortepiano or pianoforte, and later, piano. During the mid 18th century, Romanticism flourished and the piano’s prevalence distinctly rose. Composers began writing more piano music and solo piano performances in concert halls were usually sold out.


During the second half of the 18th century, piano-making flourished. The instrument was produced by a number of manufacturers with a focus on coming up with a more powerful sound. As a result of all these adjustments, the technicalities of the piano became more stable and responsive and the keyboard’s touch was improved.


Thanks to the Americans, by the 19th century the price of pianos was significantly reduced due to mass-production and become a must-have for every household.


With the introduction of modern technology, the piano’s fame was threatened and to deal with this, leading manufacturers introduced player pianos. These were fed with music sheets, which automatically pressed the correct keys. In an effort to spur an interest in the piano, manufacturers focused on low prices and physical features as opposed to quality and performance and by the 1940s, baby grands and spinets were the models of choice and the same applies today.


This jump in technology eventually led to the invention of the digital piano and thus, the electric keyboard. These electric keyboards boomed in the 1960s along with synthesizers. Eventually, Bob Moog added a keyboard to a synthesizer in 1970 and from there, the electric keyboard explosion began. Other companies joined in with the trend and over some time more advancements and polishings were made. Later came digital synthesizers which could be connected to computers and other devices for input and further programming and editing. Progressive rock of the 1970s and electronic pop of the 1980s became tied to synthesizers.


The piano is one of the most popular instruments today along so, along with the keyboard, it’s surely not going away anytime soon.


If you’re interested in purchasing an acoustic or digital piano or a keyboard, then be sure to come to Olimpus in Mosta where our large selection of instruments and accessories will surely satisfy your every need.