A keyboardist is a musician who plays keyboard instruments. Until the early 1960s musicians who played keyboards were generally classified as either pianists or organists. Since the mid-1960s, a plethora of new musical instruments with keyboards have come into common usage, requiring a more general term for a person who plays them. These keyboards include:
There are many famous electronic keyboardists in rock, pop and jazz music. A complete list can be found at List of keyboardists.
The use of electronic keyboards grew in popularity throughout the 1960s, with many bands using the Hammond organ, Mellotron, and electric pianos such as the Fender Rhodes. The Beatles became the first group to use the Moog synthesizer on a pop record on 1969's Abbey Road, with it being particularly prominent in the song Here Comes The Sun. In the late 1960s, a pioneer of modern electronic music Jean Michel Jarre started to experiment with synthesizers and other electronic devices. As synthesizers became more affordable and less unwieldy, many more bands and producers began using them, eventually paving the way for bands that consisted solely of synthesizers and other electronic instruments such as drum machines by the late '70s/early '80s. Some of the first bands that used this set up were Kraftwerk, Suicide and The Human League. Rock groups also began using synthesizers and electronic keyboards alongside the traditional line-up of guitar, bass and drums; particularly in progressive rock groups such as Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Rush.
By the 1990s, fewer bands were using synthesizers, and even former purely electronic acts such as Depeche Mode began using traditional acoustic instruments alongside the electronic instruments. Increasingly, synthesizers became more and more unpopular in rock music, and became almost exclusively used by electronic dance music producers. Some of the more famous electronic production acts include The Prodigy, Massive Attack and Orbital. Producers such as William Orbit and Brian Eno would also use synthesizers and electronic effects to add color to music by the bands they were working with.
Perhaps as a result of the almost exclusive use of electronic instruments and samples in dance-pop and R&B, it became stylish among hard-rock enthusiasts and musicians to adopt an attitude of scorn and derision towards keyboardists and keyboard music. As an example, guitarist Ted Nugent goes hunting and shoots a keyboard in one of his DVDs. However, in general, the keyboardist has seen something of a resurgence in rock music in recent years, with bands like Maroon 5, Athlete, Keane and The Killers featuring keyboards prominently.
A keyboardist is a musician who plays one or more of the musical instruments called keyboard instruments, such as the piano, organ, or electronic synthesizer. A person who plays piano is also called a pianist. A person who plays organ is called an organist. Many types of music use keyboardists, such as rock, pop, funk, and classical music.