As well as providing an authentic reproduction of an acoustic piano, a digital piano will also offer many other features that will enhance your playing so if you’re only familiar with acoustic pianos, reading the features list of a typical digital piano can be a bit baffling. To help make things clearer, let’s look at some of the more common features;
In addition to piano sounds, many digital pianos offer additional instrument sounds or voices that enable you to play in a wide variety of styles. These include electric pianos perfect for jazz or strings for orchestral or even synths for pop music.
First up is key split. Very simply, this allows the player to assign one sound to the lower half of the keyboard, and another to the upper – perfect for playing music that uses two instruments.
Dual Mode/ Layer
Whereas a key split divides the keyboard into two sounds, dual mode, or layer, will put one sound over the top of another- piano over the top of strings. Most pianos with this feature will allow you to adjust the level of each sound according to taste.
A sequencer is simply a recorder that enables you to record and play back your performance for self-evaluation. You can usually store your performances in the piano’s on board memory or on a separate USB key. Some digital pianos have multi track sequencers which can record tracks on top of each other, so you could for example, record your piano performance, and while it is playing back, you could record a string part on another track, gradually building up the piece to a multi instrument performance. The more tracks you have, the more complex an arrangement you can build up.
USB / MIDI
While many digital pianos have built-in tools for learning and making music, you can expand your possibilities even further through your PC. A digital piano can be easily connected to your Windows or Mac computer using MIDI (musical instrument digital interface). MIDI opens up a universe of music education, composition, and recording software to explore.
Some digital pianos allow you to connect an MP3 player to the input jacks for play along fun. Not only can you play the song through the piano’s speakers, you can also transpose it, useful if the song is in a hard key and you want to play along in an easy key. On some pianos, you can even minimize the melody using a centre cancel feature enabling you to play your own melody over the top.
Read more posts from our beginner piano series
- Choosing between an acoustic or digital piano
- What types of piano are available?
- What do I need to know when I’m in a piano shop?
- Do you need accessories for your digital piano?
- The variety of sounds on digital pianos
- Learn faster on a digital piano
- Setting up your digital piano in your home
- Digital piano action explained
- Connecting a digital piano to a computer