Keyboard matrix (music)

Most electronic keyboards used in synthesizers, electronic organs, and digital pianos use a keyboard matrix circuit to connect the switches for each key. In this matrix circuit, the rows and columns are made up of wiring. Depressing a key connects a circuit in the matrix, which causes the tone generation mechanism to be triggered.


Without a matrix circuit, a 61-key keyboard would have to have 61 wires connected to the integrated circuit of the keyboard, which would be an awkward and thick bundle of wiring. With the matrix circuit, the entire 61-key keyboard can send signals to the integrated circuit with two matrices of eight wires that are conceptually arranged into columns and rows. The electronic or digital keyboard controller scans all of the columns, to determine if a key has been pressed. If a key in the column has been pressed, then the controller scan the rows, to determine which row has been activated. In a manner analogous to the children's board game "Battleship!", the keyboard controller determines which key has been pressed, and then closes the switch for that key's note. This entire process takes place so quickly that the performer is not aware of the delay. [] The matrix circuit approach used in musical keyboards is also used in other types of non-musical keyboards, such as in the keypads for calculators and the "QWERTY" alphabetic and numeric keyboards used to enter information into computers.

Matrix circuits for instruments that are intended to be used in a monophonic fashion (playing only one note at a time) such as a bass pedal keyboard are simpler than matrix circuits for instruments that will be used to play polyphonically (multiple notes at once). For keyboards that will be used to play multiple-note chords or multiple-part melodies, the matrix circuit needs to have a diode soldered into the circuit for each key. The diode acts like a one-way valve in a water plumbing system. Without the diodes, the current would flow "backwards" up the matrix when several keys were pressed at once, which would trigger unwanted notes or mask intended notes.


ee also

*Musical keyboard
*Alphanumeric keyboard (computing)

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