Key musical instruments

Key musical instruments are characterized by a sound extraction system with the help of levers controlled by keys. A lot of keys, arranged in a certain order, were called the instrument keyboard.

Organ – the first keyboard instrument

The history of keyboard instruments originates in the Middle Ages. One of the first keyboard instruments is the organ. In the first organs, sound was obtained by controlling large valves. They turned out to be quite inconvenient and quickly replaced bolts with levers, also of rather impressive size. In the 11th century, the levers were replaced by wide keys, which could be pressed by hand. Comfortable narrow keys, characteristic of modern organs, appeared only in the 16th century. So the organ turned into a keyboard wind musical instrument.

Keykord – the first stringed keyboard instrument

The first clavichord invented in the period from the 14th to the 16th century, unfortunately, historians are not sure of the exact dates. The medieval clavichord was reminiscent of a modern piano. It is characterized by a quiet, soft sound, so the clavichord rarely played for a large audience. In addition, it is quite compact in size, and therefore often used for home music making and was very popular in rich homes. Especially for the clavichord, composers of the Baroque era created Bach, Mozart, Beethoven.


The harpsichord first appeared in the 14th century in Italy, even Boccaccio mentioned it in his “Decameron”. This is a stringed musical instrument of the plucked type, since it is characterized by sound extraction by string picking by the mediator at the moment of pressing the key. The role of the mediator is performed by a bird’s feather.

Single and two-man harpsichords are singled out. Unlike a clavichord or a piano, the harpsichord string is parallel to the keys, just like the piano.

The harpsichord gives a weak sharp sound. He was often used in chamber music as an accompaniment to singing. The case of the harpsichord was richly decorated, and in general this instrument was considered, rather, as an element of decor.

Spinet, verginel and muzelar are varieties of harpsichord. They have a similar principle of sound extraction, but other designs. These tools are small in size, most often with a single keyboard and a range of four octaves.


The piano was first designed by the Italian master Bartolommeo Christofi in the early 18th century. By this period, keyboard instruments almost did not stand the competition of strings, in particular the violin, which was much more virtuosic and more expressive. Piano was the instrument that could provide an impressive dynamic range and win the hearts of musicians of the era.

His new keyboard instrument Bartolomeo Christofi called “playing quietly and loudly”, which in Italian sounded “piano e forte”. Similar variations of the keyboard instruments were created at the same time by Christopher Gottlieb Schroeter and the Frenchman Jean Marius.

The Italian piano Bartolomeo Christophe was arranged as follows: a punch of a key activates a felt hammer, the hammer in turn makes the string vibrate, and a special mechanism takes the hammer back, not allowing it to press the string and muffle the sound. Neither the pedals nor the dampers of this piano were. Later, the opportunity was added to return the hammer only halfway, which turned out to be very convenient for the execution of various types of melisms, which are characterized by rapid repetition of notes.

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