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After searching the forums for a while, I couldn't exactly find what I was looking for.


Could someone please point me to the parts of the forums that explain the basics of keyboarding? Not the technical playing...but the difference between keyboards, workstations, synths, midi controllers...what programs (PC) can process .midi from a controller...strengths of different types of boards and where the are most likely to be useful?


I know it's extremely broad...but hopefully you can point me in the right directions or at least help me find the search terms the will lead me down this path. thx

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Sounds like you are looking for a book.


Might be easier to mention what it is you are trying to accomplish.


What kind of keyboard(s) and equipment are you using?


Are you composing music and/or playing in a band?


Give up some 411 and maybe someone can provide some direction.


To answer your question(s) as is would involve a dissertation. Not enough time left in this year. ;)


Welcome the forum. :cool:



"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Thanks for the prompt response. I've been playing piano for 16 years, but I've never come into the world of keyboards. I've just been asked to play with a group of creative and talented musicians and want to buy a new instrument (have just had an old Yamaha PSR-500 for years...sounds like crap). In order to make sense of any of this information, I need to find a place to start...and informational articles are actually difficult to find when popular search engines are often flooded with commercial webpages.


So...in short....playing in a band. I recently purchased ProTools LE for another project, but don't even know the capabilities of this as far as keys are concerned.


Any information you could point me to would be great, but a lot of what I find is for the individual who already knows the basics. I'm more than glad to provide further information about myself and my knowledge, but I don't exactly know what questions I need to be answering.


Thank you.

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I understand your frustration here as its a topic that comes up here. The first thing you could do is to try a search with many different word combinations. I think that will produce alot of useful information. It sounds like you've tried that on the internet without much success so its pointless to recommend that again. Lastly ProfD made the suggestion of looking at a book. There are some good books which describe the differeces. I can't think of any books off the top of my head but bookstores like Borders or even amazon should carry them. I guess the one thing to remember is patience. This is a big sbject with lots of information. Sometimes that information you seek may come in smaller chunks and not all at once.

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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As a pianist, the feel of the keys may be important. Secondly, it will be the sounds.


The very first thing you need to do is visit a music store in order to try out several pro level keyboards.


Start by looking at either a synth (ROMpler) or digital piano (Yamaha, Korg or Roland).


Synths normally provide more sounds than a digital piano.


A MIDI controller will do you no good in a band unless you plan on gigging with a laptop. The jury is still out on that approach.


A workstation provides sounds, sequencing and sampling capabilities. These feature may be unncessary in a band.


Also, a synth or digital piano can function as a MIDI controller in a computer-based setup.


Check out a few models and get back to us with your thoughts/questions/concerns. :cool:



"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Thanks for your input. I'll check out what's available on Amazon/Borders and just try my luck at finding something good. If anyone else has a specific suggestion on a book with this material...please feel free to give it! Thanks again.
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Hi bassvp -


First, welcome to the forum! :wave:


I recently was in your exact position, away from playing and keeping up with technology in keyboards for several years, so I can relate. I found it very fascinating to learn about all the "new" stuff going on. I hope you consider it an interesting journey, rather than some sort of chore.


I don't know of such a book like you are asking for, but it seems that one way you could get up to speed pretty quickly is to visit a music store - places like Guitar Center (GC) and SamAsh are large chains, but a locally owned store might even be better, since they likely will have a more knowledgeable sales staff. The stores will likely have the keyboards grouped by basic type. Spend some time - hours would not be unusual - playing each type and trying to understand their basic functions. In addition to giving you a visual and aural frame of reference for your understanding, it will allow you to get acquainted with the makes and models of each. One warning - this experience usually creates a case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, hopefully not the other type!), because this stuff is designed to be attractive!


The following list along with my (simplistic) definitions might help get you started:


Synthesizer - a device that creates and shapes its own sounds, usually using oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. It is usually the most versatile in creating unique sounds, but the results don't sound like traditional keyboard instruments like piano or organ. The first synths were analog - created their sounds by creating and shaping voltage waveforms. Today, many (most) synths create the sound digitally, using lookup tables and digital signal processing (DSP) instead of analog circuits. One class of synth that tries to mimic an analog synth using digital techniques is called Virtual Analog (VA).


ROMpler - an instrument that creates its sound by playing back samples of real instruments stored in ROM. Since the basis of sound is a sample, they can achieve much more realism than a synth, so these can closely imitate pianos and organs, as well as synths. The synth sounds are generally not as "tweakable" as those created by a synthesizer, but they usually have an "effects" section that allows you to add reverb, tremolo, and other special characteristics - maybe even filtering - to the sound. A ROMpler has more sound choices than anything else, but for the most part you have to live with the sounds that are provided (although the higher-end units can download additional sound sets).


Stage piano - basically a ROMpler that is optimized toward providing the best sounding pianos. Usually a lot of ROM is used to store the piano samples, and there are usually several samples stored per note - the sample that is actually selected for play depends upon the velocity of the key strike - soft, medium or loud, for example.


workstation - a ROMpler with added capabilities, such as the ability to record songs as they are being played, then edit them later. For example, it is possible to record the melody of a song, then go back and add the accompaniment (bass and chords) later. It is also possible to dump the finished song to a computer via MIDI or USB, or even to record it directly to CD/DVD.


controller - a keyboard that does not contain any sounds of its own, but is designed to transmit MIDI commands to a sound module (or computer) to control its sounds. Depending upon the cost, these keyboards and transmit on more than one MIDI channel, and can do splits (each section of the keyboard able to transmit different MIDI info) and layers (each key able to transmit multiple MIDI commands).


These are pretty basic definitions, and many (most?) keyboards on the market don't exactly fit just one of the above categories. For example, almost all synths and ROMplers can also transmit MIDI (or MIDI via USB) commands, so they can act as controllers at the same time as producing their own sounds.


Finally, another classification concerning keyboards is their feel. There are three basic categories: synth action - unweighted, fast keys, very unlike a piano; semi-weighted, which provides some resistance to key pressure, usually by attaching a weight to the bottom of each key; and weighted, or hammer action, which simulates a piano feel by using some sort of hammer mechanism during keypress. However, just like acoustic pianos, every brand and type of keyboard feels different - just read through some of the forum posts to get an idea of the range of personal tastes! Yet another reason to go try the different types for yourself.


Hope this helps! Good luck, and have fun learning about all this stuff!


- Bob

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