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Keyboard instruments

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What are keyboard instruments?

Keyboard instruments are musical instruments in which the sound is produced by pressing keys. These keys are arranged on a keyboard and can be made of different materials. There are different types of keyboard instruments: Strumming for pianos, plucking for harpsichords and blowing for accordions. Electronic keyboard instruments such as keyboards are also very popular. The mechanism is activated by pressing the buttons to produce the sound. Well-known keyboard instruments are the piano,




. They have an important place in the history of music, both in solo music and in ensembles and orchestras.

Sound production of keyboard instruments

There are three different ways of producing sound on keyboard instruments: strumming (on the


), plucking (harpsichord) and blowing (organ).


). The white and black keys of the piano or keyboard are particularly common in Western music. Buttons can also be used to operate the accordion.

As a rule, the pitch of the playable notes on most keyboard instruments is fixed by the keyboard, which makes it impossible to glide seamlessly from note to note. Electronic keyboard instruments are an exception here. With these, it is possible to use a master keyboard to integrate external or internal synthesizers, samplers and computers.

Typical keyboard instruments and their construction

On most keyboard instruments, the pitch of the playable notes is fixed by the keyboard; it is not possible to glide seamlessly from one note to another. Exceptions are electronic keyboard instruments. In western and occidental music, white and black keys on a keyboard are common. Other arrangements can be found on the button accordion or bandoneon, where buttons are used instead of keys.

Similarities in keyboard instruments

All keyboard instruments have one thing in common: the duration of the sound can be precisely controlled from the moment the key is pressed until it is released. Depending on the design of the specific keyboard instrument, other musical parameters can be influenced by playing.

Differences in the playing style of different keyboard instruments

With the piano, the volume can be influenced by means of touch dynamics and, to a limited extent, the tone color can be influenced by the pedals. With the organ and harpsichord, volume and timbre can be influenced indirectly, namely through the registration. With the harmonium and hand-pulled instruments such as the accordion, the playing pressure is under the direct control of the player and is one of the main means of expression. Most keyboard instruments can play several notes at the same time, so they are harmony instruments.

List of keyboard instruments


Keyboard instruments