Musical Instruments

The Keyboard Family

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Keyboard instruments are all similar in that the pitch is controlled using buttons or keys, and a keyboard player will usually find it relatively easy to learn a new keyboard instrument, although they may have to adapt to having more than one keyboard (or manual) to use. The keyboard instruments do not however really form their own family as the different instruments all produce sound in different ways.

The most common keyboard instrument is the piano. There is some debate as to whether it belongs to the percussion family because the strings are hit, or whether it belongs to the string family because its strings vibrate to produce sound. The celesta is definitely a percussion instrument as its keyboard controls hammers that hit metal disks.

The harpsichord, while most similar in appearance to the piano, is a string instrument because its strings are plucked by quills controlled by the keyboard.

Keyboard instruments that belong to the woodwind family are the organ and the accordion. Both use air, pumped by bellows, to produce sound. The organ uses pipes that split the air, like recorders and flutes, while the accordion uses double reeds like an oboe.

The most modern keyboard instrument, the synthesizer, or electronic keyboard, belongs to the family of electronic instruments because its sound is produced using electricity.

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