keyboard

jokaec

Senior Member
Chinese - Hong Kong
As far as I know, the word "keyboard" can be used to refer computer keyboard or music instrument keyboard. When I refer to a music instrument keyboard, can I call it "electronic keyboard" to differentiate it from computer keyboard or let me know if you have better expression? Thank you!
 
  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    When I refer to a music instrument keyboard, can I call it "electronic keyboard" to differentiate it from computer keyboard or let me know if you have better expression? Thank you!
    I don't think that calling it "electronic keyboard" will communicate without a doubt that you are talking about a musical instrument. A typewriter too has a keyboard, and they too can be mechanical or not. I also think that there are easier ways to make the distinction.

    In my opinion context will make it clear. Just think of a situation where you would talk about a musical instrument keyboard, and consider the context in which you are making your statement. I would guess that the context itself would make it clear that you're talking about an instrument when saying "keyboard". And even if you are starting a new conversation so there is no context yet, you could easily just say "I play the keyboard by the way...." and the word "play" would indicate clearly that you're talking about a musical instrument. If you were talking about a computer keyboard starting a new conversation you would still probably end up with words that make the context clear.
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Context often makes clear which kind of keyboard you're talking about, but not always.

    For example, here's a list of things that I have probably said about both computer keyboards and electronic musical keyboards:
    I just bought a new keyboard!
    I'm trying to set this keyboard up at a comfortable height.
    I need a new USB cable to connect my keyboard to my computer.

    I can't think of a non-awkward way to differentiate between the two, in these circumstances. I'd say this is a failing of the English language. It's not even terribly uncommon, but apparently uncommon enough that we haven't developed an elegant solution.
     

    Highland Thing

    Senior Member
    English, Welsh
    As far as I know, the word "keyboard" can be used to refer computer keyboard or music instrument keyboard. When I refer to a music instrument keyboard, can I call it "electronic keyboard" to differentiate it from computer keyboard or let me know if you have better expression? Thank you!
    Without a context, and generalising rashly, 'keyboard' mostly means a computer keyboard, 'keyboards' a synthesiser and 'keyboard instrument' a harpsichord/clavichord/piano etc.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "Electronic keyboards" (musical) were common for decades before computer keyboards started appearing in homes in the 1980s. The term has been well known since the 1960s in instrumental music. And computer keyboards are not normally called "electronic", even though they are electronic.

    Still, I don't think "electronic keyboard" will be universally understood, without some musical context. It is just an opinion.

    On the other hand, I have trouble imagining a situation where you would use the phrase "electronic keyboard" and not have something else in the same paragraph that implies a musical context.

    I think it is unfair. If PC users call the thing they move around a "mouse", why can't they call the thing they type on a "rabbit"?
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    In all my years as a musician and audio engineer the only times I've heard anyone refer to an electronic musical instrument with a keyboard as an "electronic keyboard" was when they wanted to clarify that it wasn't an acoustic piano they were playing (although it was then often more specific, i.e. "I bought a new keyboard, a Yamaha" etc). In other words "electronic keyboard" just sounds odd a lot of times, in my opinion. But I agree that in some instances there aren't "elegant solutions".
     
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