In the 18th century, keyboard instruments were a standard feature of orchestras. Then, as keyboard technology improved, they became increasingly soloistic. The piano led the way, both as a domestic and concerto instrument. Nevertheless, there are examples of orchestral use of keyboards throughout the 19th century, and in the 20th and 21st centuries they are more commonly used than not. Balance issues need to be considered when writing for keyboards and sometimes amplification is a useful solution.

Use the navigation bar above to explore the keyboard pages.

The icon will launch a youtube movie about keyboard technique.

The icon will give an audio clip, which will either play automatically or open a new window.

The icon will play an illustrative music example from the Philharmonia's recorded archive.

The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at]