Review article for beginner musicians
The training problem is one of the most important, but, unfortunately, the least covered, which often leads to disastrous results in terms of creative growth: without laying the proper basis at the very beginning of the path, it will subsequently be difficult to get on the right track. The first thing you need to decide is how seriously do you plan to master musical science. If the matter is limited to the performance of simple melodies, then, in fact, any device is suitable – regardless of the type of mechanics and the number of octaves. But if your intentions are more thorough, then this is completely different. In such a situation, an instrument with an 88-key (7 octaves) “heavy” hammer mechanics is needed, which, by tactile sensations, is as close as possible to a real piano. The question of choosing a digital piano also requires a responsible approach, especially considering that a model with a high-quality keyboard and realistic sound is, alas, not cheap. Yes, but why not just buy an ordinary piano? – you will take an interest. Ideally, this should be done, only because it takes up a lot of space, needs periodic preventive maintenance and does not allow to output sound through headphones. Not to mention the single “built-in timbre.”
In most modern electronic instruments, keyboard mechanics are divided into three types: unweighted, half-weighted, and fully-weighted. Unweighted, it is also called synthesizer, can be found in the most inexpensive models with auto accompaniment. Such keys are pressed almost effortlessly, and do not allow to saturate the game with nuances and shades. Half-weighted keyboards are the most common. They have a pleasant resilience and make the performance more natural. The hierarchical pyramid is crowned by a fully-weighted mechanics with a hammer effect, which is placed either in digital pianos or in high-end workstations.
This parameter indicates the number of sounds (notes) that the instrument can play simultaneously, including extended sustain pedals. For a digital piano, the optimum is 64-note polyphony, and for a good workstation – 128 notes. This will allow even complex works to be performed without fear that the sounds will be “swallowed” due to a lack of instrument hardware resources.
The principle of operation of the electronic keyboard instrument is shown in the diagram. In turn, the type of apparatus (digital piano, synthesizer with auto accompaniment, workstation, etc.) determines which fragments of this mosaic will be present and which will not.
The keys, stylized as usual piano keys, are equipped with sensors that transmit short digital block messages with information about the speed (strength), time of pressing and releasing each of the keys, and other parameters to the instrument’s electronics. The standard is called MIDI (Musical Instruments Digital Interface) and has been used in all digital synthesizers for decades.
2. Tongo generator
It is appropriate to compare it with paints that can be used to revive a children’s coloring book, and MIDI messages with the outline of a picture. The tone generator contains many presets (tones) in its memory that simulate both live instruments and electronic sounds. It is enough for the user to indicate which timbre from the presented assortment MIDI commands coming from the keyboard or sequencer should be voiced. Thanks to this scheme, a musician, playing on the same device, can be a “guitarist”, and “violinist”, and “drummer”. And since the MIDI interface allows the parallel transmission of multiple data streams (MIDI channels), the tone generator is simultaneously capable of voicing different parts with different tones.
Module for recording, editing and playing MIDI commands. With it, you can create a complex composition alone, having 100% control over the performance of any part. I will allow myself another figurative comparison. Imagine that you wrote a text on a computer, and then slowly edit it and correct the spelling. The sequencer allows you to do the same, only with MIDI messages. At the disposal of the composer is up to 16 MIDI-tracks, each of which fixes a part of any instrument – a sort of ensemble of 16 subject “performers”. The process of recording a track is usually done in real time by playing the keys. In case of an error, it is possible to rewrite the desired fragment or measure. Professional-grade sequencers allow you to edit the score down to the parameters of each individual note.
4. Effects processor
This module no longer works with MIDI commands, but with an audio signal – the sound that was recreated by the tone generator. Effects (echo, imitation of the acoustics of the halls, etc.) can be applied both to the whole work and to individual instruments.