An obvious statement: fewer keys, many voices, trick facilities - but
the important point is that playing them is a different experience.
With a piano you are, obviously enough, on your own - you provide your
own accompaniment. With a keyboard you can simply play using the whole
keyboard, choosing from a wide range of sounds: or you can use your
left hand to drive an automatic accompaniment by simply playing one,
two or three notes. Not only is the experience different, the result is
also different. This recording was made to illustrate that difference.
This little waltz* is first played on a piano (a Yamaha Clavinova
CLP-50 but it's
a pretty good imitation of a real piano) and then using the 'French
Waltz' auto-accompaniment on the Casio. Though the use of the accordion
with drums and bass is interesting, the rhythm is of course fixed, so
that the slight rubato (speed variations) and the expressiveness of
the piano version is lost. The recording finishes with an automatic
ending, without which it would rather lurch to a stop. (Click the to play:
The keyboard is 94.5 cm wide by 37.8 cm deep and 13.2 cm high, and
weighs 5.8kg (without batteries) - these things are always bigger when
you get them home than you thought they were going to be. It has fair
quality speakers and output jacks for connecting to headphones or hi-fi
(¼ inch jacks, not phono/RCA). You can connect a pedal (optional extra)
or starting rhythms. There is a power unit included (well hidden in the
packaging - complaints on Amazon that there isn't one are from people
who haven't looked hard enough): it can run on batteries (6 D cells
which last about 4 hours, so an expensive exercise).
There are 670 instrumental sounds ('Tones') and 200 rhythms with or
without auto accompaniment, a pitch bend wheel (± one tone by default
configurable to an octave), 32 available registrations (8 banks of 4)
for saving sounds and accompaniments, and various configurable effects.
An impressive array of buttons and a thumbwheel control all this, and a
display shows you what is set.
The included manual is reasonably
detailed, and a separate large sheet lists all the tones, rhythms, drum
kit allocations and preset chord sequences.
You can select one of the auto-accompaniments for the left hand, choose
any tone (or two at once) for the right: you can set the tempo, change
tones or accompaniments as you go, add preset openings and closings if
required, start automatically as soon as you start playing, transpose,
and have a metronome sound if required. You can record the result
(without the metronome); once recorded you can change the tempo (of
course this doesn't change the pitch as an audio recording would) or
the instrumentation: you can record more tracks to build up a complex
result (see page 5). There are five 'slots' for your recordings but you
can copy them to an SD or SDHC memory card and play them back directly
from there. You can edit your recording right down to changing
individual notes, though inevitably this is a fiddly business.
The keyboard is of course basically positioned for pop music, and there
is a wide range of suitable sounds and backings, but you can also
produce convincing jazz and middle-of-the-road results - I don't much
like pop so my interest is more with these latter. Classical - not so
suitable though you can forget the auto-accompaniments and simply use
the keyboard as it stands (though for a pianist the 61 keys, with only
two octaves below middle C, is going to result in trying to play the
casing quite frequently).
This video shows a sample of a quiet small-group jazz piece: I
pre-sequenced the backing so that I could concentrate on the melody
lines - the short introduction was pre-sequenced and is not one of the
The first thing anyone is going to do
with it once it's switched on is
to try out the various tones, and the next page
examines some of these.
*The waltz is my own
composition, a pastiche of German cabaret music: you can hear the
complete GarageBand version here.