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Title: Keyboardist  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mickey Simmonds, Jeff Bova, Timothy Jordan II, Henry Priestman, Keiko Matsui
Collection: Keyboardists, Occupations in Music
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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A keyboardist is a organists. Since the mid-1960s, a plethora of new musical instruments with keyboards have come into common usage, requiring a more general term for a person who plays them. These keyboards include:


  • Notable electronic keyboardists 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5

Notable electronic keyboardists

There are many famous electronic keyboardists in rock, pop and jazz music. A complete list can be found at List of keyboardists.

The use of electronic keyboards grew in popularity throughout the 1960s, with many bands using the Hammond organ, Mellotron, and electric pianos such as the Fender Rhodes. The Doors became the first group to use the Moog synthesizer on a pop record on 1967's "Strange Days". Other bands, including The Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles would go on to add it to their records, both to provide sound effects and as a musical instrument in its own right. In 1966, Billy Ritchie became the first keyboard player to take a lead role in a rock band, replacing guitar, and thereby preparing the ground for others such as Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.[1] In the late 1960s, a pioneer of modern electronic music Jean Michel Jarre started to experiment with synthesizers and other electronic devices. As synthesizers became more affordable and less unwieldy, many more bands and producers began using them, eventually paving the way for bands that consisted solely of synthesizers and other electronic instruments such as drum machines by the late 1970s/early 1980s. Some of the first bands that used this set up were Kraftwerk, Suicide and The Human League. Rock groups also began using synthesizers and electronic keyboards alongside the traditional line-up of guitar, bass and drums; particularly in progressive rock groups such as Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Pink Floyd. The pop-blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac was also known for synthesizer-infused hits during this period.

By the 1990s, fewer bands were using synthesizers, and even former purely electronic acts such as Depeche Mode began using traditional acoustic instruments alongside the electronic instruments. Increasingly, synthesizers became more and more unpopular in rock music, and became almost exclusively used by electronic dance music producers. Some of the more famous electronic production acts include The Prodigy, Massive Attack and Orbital. Producers such as William Orbit and Brian Eno would also use synthesizers and electronic effects to add colour to music by the bands they were working with.

Keyboardists are often highly sought after in cover bands, to replicate the original keyboard parts and other instrumental parts such as strings or horns where it would be logistically difficult to hire people to play the actual instruments.

See also


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Muze); The Illustrated History of Rock, Clouds by Ed Ward; Q magazine article 1996 by Martin Ashton; Mojo Magazine article '1-2-3 and the Birth of Prog' nov 1994

Further reading

  • Young, Percy M. Keyboard Musicians of the World. London: Abelard-Schuman, 1967. N.B.: Concerns celebrated keyboard players and the various such instruments used over the centuries. SBN 200-71497-X

External links

  • Keyboard magazine (US)
  • Keyboard Player magazine
  • Harmony Central resource for keyboard/synth players
  • Vintage Synth Explorer
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