Keyboard & Digital Piano Glossary

Accompaniment Styles

Backing tracks to play along with. Accompaniment styles introduce you to a wide range of styles within different genres of music you may never have used before.


The name given to Yamaha’s range of ‘starter’ digital pianos.

Articulation Switches

Featured with the Yamaha Tyros series, these switches enable you to preset and change the way notes respond, at the touch of a button.

Auto Accompaniment

A function which automatically generates a complete rhythmic backing to a melody played by the user.

Auto Harmony

This feature automatically adds harmony when you play a melody on the keyboard. There are 5 kinds of harmony to choose from: Duet, Trio, Block, Country and Octave.

AWM Technology

AWM is an acronym for Advanced Wave Memory. All Yamaha Clavinovas feature AWM: notes are stereo sampled (recorded) from a real grand piano, for realistic playback. Yamaha often refers to a number of ‘levels’ of AWM: 4-level AWM means that the piano sampled had been recorded at 4 different levels of volume. More levels mean a more faithful reproduction.

Chorus Effect

Often found on the classic Hammond organ, Chorus gives the impression that a group of instruments are playing.


The name given to all Yamaha CLP and CVP digital pianos.

Clavinova Radio / ModusRadio

An internet-based service which allows IDC-equipped models to play a wide variety of streaming music for entertainment purposes. ModusRadio users can choose from more than 10 music channels.

CF Sampling

The sounds sampled for some of the higher-end digital pianos are taken from the Yamaha CFIIIS Full Concert Grand Piano; Yamaha’s largest acoustic piano.

Computer Connectivity

Keyboards with this feature can send digital signals to a computer, to record and edit your performances.

Dual Mode

Allows two instruments to be played together on a single key (e.g. piano and strings, trumpet and saxophone, electric piano and bass).

Easy Song Arranger Feature

This tool lets you change the style of any song so you can hear it and play along with it in any genre you want. You can also add intros and endings while muting and adding accompaniment parts.

Exercise On Demand

An internet-based service, which allows you (with a compatible keyboard model) to download a variety of exercises to help you learn and practice the keyboard. (See to download lessons, and for more information.)

Fine Tuning

Notes of the scale can be measures in Hertz within Western traditions. ‘Concert A’ is almost always tuned at 440Hz. A fine tuning control on your keyboard enables you to alter the tuning of the whole keyboard with these sensitive measurements.

Flash ROM

An internal or removable memory stick, for storing your keyboard or digital piano settings. This can be particularly helpful if you have a few presets you use regularly.

GHS Action

Yamaha's unique digital piano action which provides repetition comparable to an acoustic grand piano (the key responds faster), and also provides a more comfortable playing experience.

Graded Hammer™ Keyboard

The keys on a Yamaha digital piano have hammers attached to the keys to replicate the feel of an acoustic piano. Graded Hammer™ keyboards have heavy hammers attached to the low notes and progressively lighter hammers higher up the keyboard. This closely matches acoustic pianos, where heavier hammers are needed to set the heavier bass strings in motion.

Graded Soft Touch Keyboard

This feature recreates the feeling of varying weighting found on a real piano, with the lower keys being heaver to touch than the higher keys.

Guide Lamps

Featured on the Clavinova CVP series; when playing a song, small LED’s placed above the keys light up to indicate which keys are to be played.

Half-Pedal Control

When a pedal is only partially depressed on an acoustic piano, a subtle muting effect is created. Some digital piano models (usually with pedals included) recreate this. On a Tyros3, this is called a half-pedal control.

Half Pedaling

A partial (instead of full) depression of the damper pedal used to create a shorter sustain, similar to the pedal on early 19th Century pianos. It might be used in pieces like Beethoven piano sonatas, for example.

Ivorite Keytops

Ivorite, a material developed solely by Yamaha Music, feels so close to the real thing that it's hard to tell them apart! Whilst plastic can be quite slippy, Ivorite has a matt finish, with a much better grip, providing you with more control over your piano playing.

Hard Disk Recorder

This enables saving of recordings of what you play digitally, as well as recording via a microphone.

Headphone Hanger

A piece of metal on the digital piano to hang headphones on.

IDC (Internet Direct Connection)

An internet based service which allows you to connect your keyboard / digital piano directly to Yamaha's server, and download songs, styles and exercises.

LAN Port

A LAN port on your keyboard or digital piano enables access to additional media content online.

LCD Display

An LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is the electronic visual display used to control options on your instrument.

Lyrics Button

A keyboard or digital piano may have a ‘lyrics’ button; this will enable song lyrics to be displayed on the LCD display.

MegaVoice™ Voices

MegaVoice™ Voices are a selection of voices available with certain Yamaha digital pianos, and are renowned for their superior realism.


A device which produces a regular ticking pulse, used as a tool for practising music at different speeds, especially scales. A digital metronome can be found on all but the cheapest few keyboards.


MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. You can connect any MIDI-compatible keyboard or digital piano to your computer using MIDI, either by a MIDI-USB cable, or via a sound card. Once on your computer, you can edit and sequence your music however you like, using computer software. MIDI data is not actually music, but simply represents the parameters of the music (the notes, velocity, length etc.) which your computer can translate into music and sound.


A range of ‘designer’ digital pianos with contemporary styling.

Moving Key

Featured on some Modus models, this animates the keyboard during song playback to give the effect of a ‘player piano’ (or ‘pianola’).

Music Database

Featured on the Yamaha keyboard ranges, the Music Database is a library of hundreds of musical style setups, pre-programmed voices and effects, which can be recalled with a button press.

Multi-Timbral Operation

A ‘timbre’ is the word used to describe the tone quality of a sound or instrument. Keyboards and digital pianos with this feature enable use of more than one tone quality of an instrument at a time.

Music Finder +

Music Finder + gives you access to songs outside the Standard library on your instrument via the IDC.


PianoSoft is software containing professionally recorded songs that can be played through your instrument.


The number of notes that a digital piano is capable of playing at once. This includes notes that are sustaining while new notes are played over the top. High polyphony (64-note or greater) is important to ensure that the digital piano can play even the most complex passages without running out of notes.

Performance Assistant Technology

When the keys are struck in time with the backing music, the notes are corrected to match the chords of the song being played. No matter what keys are hit, your keyboard will play the correct notes, allowing you to focus on keeping the music flowing!

Portable Grand

Yamaha’s Portable Grand series of keyboards are designed to feel and sound like a real grand piano, with a weighted graded hammer action keyboard and genuine grand piano sounds – whilst still being affordable. Only Yamaha keyboards feature the Portable Grand sound and touch; an even more sensitive and realistic piano feel can be found on the Clavinova CLP series.

Premium Styles

A selection of Premium styles come as standard with a Tyros keyboard, but can be downloaded and used with a variety of keyboard models. Premium styles have been created to add more variety and quality to the existing ‘styles’ collection, and for more fun and creativity.

Pure CF Sampling

See CF Sampling.

Registration Memory

Allows the user to store their entire keyboard setup in one of a number of memory locations, each of which can be recalled with a button press.


An effect which can be applied to any keyboard or digital piano voice. It makes the instrument sound as if it's playing in a large echoic space such as a concert hall.


The technology used to record an acoustic instrument, convert it to digital information and reproduce the sound.


A device which records sequences of notes and replays them.


Featured on the more advanced keyboard models (and not on digital pianos), sliders allow for fluid and flexible control over all tone and effect parameters.

Soundboard Resonator

In an acoustic piano, the soundboard's main use is to act as a resonator, to increase the volume; without it, you would hardly hear the notes at all! In the AvantGrand, the soundboard is recreated using an oscillator (also known as a ‘transducer') situated just behind the music rest, transmitting vibrations through the soundboard to allow for a more subtle reproduction when chords are built-up. The effect it has is especially evident in the higher range of the piano.

Spatial Acoustic Sampling

Each note has been sampled from the Yamaha full concert grand (CFIIIS), using 4 separate microphones to recreate an entirely enveloping experience in quadraphonic hi-fidelity, instead of stereo. In addition to this, the vibrations have also been sampled from the soundboard by experienced engineers for incredible touch as well as tone.

Spatial Acoustic Speaker System

Four separate speaker systems work together to accurately reproduce what the spatial sampling system has worked so hard to emulate through recording. Each system is 3-way configured with a bass woofer facing down and two treble cones facing up, to create an entirely natural resonance, as well as full clarity of sound over the whole frequency range. In addition, each speaker system has its own amplifier, reducing interference for complete clarity in sound.

Specialised Grand Piano Action

This system features real wooden hammers for a touch identical to that of an acoustic piano. The hammers strike from underneath just like on a grand piano, for a faster, smoother response than you would find on an upright. This also makes keys more sensitive to expression, so dynamics are better controlled.

Specialised Grand Piano Pedals

Unlike normal digital piano pedals (e.g. Clavinova series) which have the same response / weighting travelling all the way through, AvantGrand's specialised pedals are light to the touch at first, subtly firm partway through its travel, then lightening again when pushed further – replicating the feel found on the Yamaha Concert Grand. Skilled pianists can take extra advantage of this, allowing finely nuanced expression through incredibly sensitive pedals. Ultimately, the technology really does help reproduce the sensation of a concert grand faithfully. It's also especially helpful for piece requiring half-pedaling.

Split Mode

Split Point

Allows different instruments to be assigned to a specific part of the keyboard. The split point can be defined anywhere along the keyboard.

Super Articulation Voices

With Super Articulation, the subtle nuances of the instrument are also recreated; the breathy, legato phrasing of a flute, or the finger-slides of a guitar for example. Some keyboards (e.g. Tyros3) benefit from Super Articulation instrument voices.


A sustain pedal (as standard with most digital pianos; please contact us for more details) will allow notes played to continue sounding without the need to keep your fingers on the keys. Photo on the right is taken of the individual Yamaha FC4 pedal unit.


An electronic device for creating music, with a keyboard which superficially represents a piano keyboard. The machine uses synthesis technology rather than sampling to create sounds.

Tactile Response System (TRS)

With an acoustic piano, the soundboard allows the sound to resonate throughout the casing, and with this, comes noticeable vibration. In a normal digital piano, it lacks these vibrations, which is why Yamaha have developed the TRS. It reproduces the reverberations felt in a concert grand via two transducer pickups under the keyboard. The feeling created is felt straight through your fingertips as well as your feet when the pedals are used. If it's not to your taste though, don't worry; you have the choice of turning the system on or off. There's also a choice of 3 vibration levels to choose between, so the touch is entirely to your taste, or changeable dependent on the style of music you're playing. It's one of our favourite features of the AvantGrand here at Sheehan's!


The temperament of a piano refers to the tuning system; the way the scale is tuned. Various tuning systems have been used throughout musical history, although now pianos tend to be tuned in ‘equal temperament’. Tuning systems vary dramatically within other cultures; Eastern (Asian) in particular. You might like to experiment with the temperament setting on your keyboard, to create interesting, or strange new sounds.


The speed of the music, or metronome. In Western traditional (Classical) music, tempo markings are given in Italian, e.g. Adagio, Andante, Allegro, Presto.

To Host Port

The socket on a digital piano which allows a simple, one-cable connection to a computer. This expands the capability of the piano through the use of computer sequencer packages and songs downloaded from the Internet.

Touch Sensitivity

All digital pianos – and most keyboards – are touch sensitive. This means that if you press the keys harder, the instrument will play the notes louder – similar to the way a real piano behaves.

USB Audio Recorder

Keyboards and digital pianos featuring a USB Audio Recorder enable you to save recordings of your performances onto a pen drive. This can be particularly helpful for practice purposes, or just to play back a performance to your friends and family!

USB Connection

Keyboards and digital pianos featuring USB Connection can enable you to save recordings of your performances onto a computer. Like a USB Audio Recorder, this can be particularly helpful for practice purposes, or just to play back a performance to your friends and family!


The instrument sound selected on a digital piano, e.g. clarinet, grand piano, trombone, synth pad, etc.

Voice Module

A device which may be connected to a digital piano, usually via MIDI, which vastly expands the range of sounds that the keyboard can reproduce.

Weighted Keys

Weighted keys feel a lot more like a real piano than a typical spring-bound keyboard. Weighting adds strength to your fingers, encouraging the proper technique and strength needed to play the acoustic piano.



An extension to the MIDI protocol designed by Yamaha, which adds a range of additional voices and effects.

Y.E.S. (Yamaha Education Suite)

The current selection of Yamaha keyboards use version 5 of the Yamaha Education Suite, which comes built-in with 102 songs to learn to play, with 7 levels of lessons separated into left and right hand parts. With audio feedback and lesson grading, the Y.E.S is a fantastic interactive way of learning how to play the keyboard.

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