Article ID: CBB001550724

Captivating Technologies: Reflections on the Equal-Tempered Diatonic Keyboard (January 2015)


This reflection on the diatonic keyboard and associated technologies in Western musical culture connects several histories not often related: music technology, production, the modern Western concept of knowledge and truth through reason, and the social or ethico-aesthetics of musical culture and their relation to Eurocentric ideology. I begin with observations on the Euro-American cultural embrace of instrumental reason, technology, and technological systems, particularly their relation to musical technologies, both hardware and software: mechanics, tuning, notation, publishing, manufacturing, electronics. Then I briefly revise the history of the keyboard, its emergence in Western musical culture from the ancient Greek/Egyptian hydraulis/organ to the equal-tempered pianoforte to the keyboard switches of today's digital synthesizers and controllers. Finally, with a nod toward the disruptions and aspirations of African American and European avant-garde innovations and experimentation, I offer considerations on the diatonic keyboard's continuing importance for today's musical culture and its tools of production.

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Authors & Contributors
Pinch, Trevor
Bijsterveld, Karin
Pinch, Trevor J.
Restle, Conny
Berns, Jörg Jochen
Hui, A. E.
Social Studies of Science
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
The Journal of Musicological Research
Journal of New Music Research
Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology
Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science
Johns Hopkins University Press
Wesleyan University Press
Harvard University Press
University of Chicago
Musical instruments
Technology and music
Music theory
Music, electronic
Sound Recording Industry
Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von
Stumpf, Carl
Schoenberg, Arnold
Edison, Thomas Alva
Ptolemy, Claudius
Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus
United States
20th century
17th century
19th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
15th century

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