A musical instrument that is primarily operated by pressing one or more rectangular keys to generate music. The keys are arranged in ascending order (lowest frequency tone to highest) from left to right.

The keys are usually made of a combination of white and black keys, as in the older days these were usually made out of ivory and ebony, respectively. The musical scale, starting from A, is A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F#, G, G# and back to A. The sharp keys (#) are black, and the natural keys are white. The sharp keys are typically wedged between the natural keys and are half the length of the white keys.

While the whole note scale is represented on a keyboard (provided it includes at least one full octave of notes), these types of instruments typically begin their octave at C. Visually, this would look something like:

|   #   #   |   #   #   #   |
| C # D # E | F # G # A # B |
|   #   #   |   #   #   #   |
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
...where the '#' represents the sharp keys.

A typical keyboard instrument is a piano. While not the original keyboard instrument, it is the name people give incorrectly to most instruments of this type (i.e. people call a "Puffs" brand tissue a "Kleenex", though technically that is incorrect). A few types of keyboard instruments are:

While the keyboard instrument, by definition, is simply a musical device with the aforementioned method of making a racket, some are effected by the speed and attitude of the keys' use. For example, hitting a piano key hard and fast will produce a loud and brief sound. Pressing the same key lightly and holding it down will produce a softer sound of longer duration. Some older or cheaper synthesizers don't measure this and produce only an on or off sound.

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