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Musical keyboard

The musical keyboard, also known as the piano keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers on a musical instrument which produce notes.

Many musical instruments which have a key for each note lay them out in the standard way shown in the graphic: the piano, harpsichord, clavichord, organ, synthesizer, celesta, melodica and carillon keyboards. Also, instruments such as the xylophone which have a separate sounding part for each note lay them out in this pattern.

The twelve notes of the Western musical scale are laid out with the lowest note on the left; the seven larger keys (for the "natural" notes of the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B) jut forward, with the sharp and flat keys less prominent. The pattern then repeats at the interval of an octave. The arrangement of white keys with intervening, shorter black keys representing intermediate half-steps(semitones) dates to the 15th century. In the following centuries many improvements were made, including a gradually increasing chromatic compass which reached five octaves in the 18th century, and attained the current 88-key range for the modern piano shortly after 1870. Some modern pianos have even more notes (B÷sendorfer 255 has 92 and B÷sendorfer 290 "Imperial" has 97 keys), and modern synthesizer keyboards commonly have either 61, 76 or 88 keys. Organs normally have 61 keys per manual, though some spinet models have 44 or 49. An organ pedalboard, a keyboard the organist plays with her feet, may vary in size from 12 to 32 notes.

image:musical_keyboard.png

Some non-standard musical keyboards

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Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:36:15
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