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Book Review: Classic Keys, by Alan S. Lenhoff and David E. Robertson

Geary Yelton

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This new coffee-table book is the stuff of keyboard dreams.

Just out from the University of North Texas Press, Classic Keys contains a wealth of well-researched information and lots of fascinating stories from musicians, engineers, keyboard techs, and others involved with the design and enjoyment of keyboard instruments. Subtitled Keyboard sounds that launched rock music, this beautiful hardbound book surveys many of the most popular and influential keyboards played not only by rock musicians, but also by players of any style of popular music. The authors spent seven painstaking years completing this labor of love, thanks in part to financial assistance from the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project (EMEAPP).

Classic Keys Excerpt

Classic Keys opens with praise from keyboardists like Rick Wakeman, Donald Fagen, and Chuck Leavell. Once you’ve admired the dozens of gorgeous color photos throughout, you’ll read about the history and evolution of keyboards, particularly instruments from the 1950s to the 1980s. Entire chapters are devoted to the Minimoog, Mellotron, Hohner Clavinet, Hammond B-3, Farfisa Compact and Vox Continental combo organs, and pianos ranging from electro-mechanical classics from Rhodes and Wurlitzer to the RMI Electa-piano and the Yamaha CP-70B electric grand. Measuring 12.75 x 9.75 inches and weighing just over 5 pounds, this 406-page coffee table book is so massive, if you attached four legs, you could almost use it as a coffee table.

Classic Keys Cover

This month in Synth and Software, with the kind permission of the authors and University of North Texas Press, you can read almost half the book’s closing chapter on collecting vintage instruments. Learn more about Classic Keys on its dedicated website: Classic Keys Book or from the publisher. You can order it direct from Amazon. If you love keyboards, you’ll definitely want a copy for your studio or living room—with or without legs attached.

Classic Keys TOC

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