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#200925 - 12/10/00 09:51 PM HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Scottyee Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/99
Posts: 10427
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA, US...
Can someone please tell me 'exactly' what the "definition" of an "oriental" arranger keyboard is? I am an american of asian (oriental?) ancestry (chinese), 3rd generation american born, but unclear what you refer here as an "oriental" keyboard.

I play the Technics KN5000 keyboard (primarily american pop, jazz, blues, and country). The KN5000 supports the following scale tunings:

2)Piano (Well Tempered?)
4)Pythagorean (just intonation?)
* separate tunings for C# & Db, etc.
7)Arabic 1 to 5
10)User Customizable

My KN5000 includes the Arabic (1 to 5) scales. Does this thus qualify my keyboard as "oriental" (or) can my keyboard qualify just because I (myself) am of 'oriental' descent?

Seriously, please explain the definition of an 'oriental' keyboard as I am interested in exploring the music you guys play in "oriental" keyboard mode. Are there specific ethnic instrument sounds and/or ethnic drum kits required to perform "oriental" style music? Are there different scale "tunings" used for Far East vs. Middle Eastern tunings?

For oriental style music I have always just played the penatonic or harmonic scale notes in standard piano (tempered) scale mode. These other scale tunings may open the door to fasinating new avenues which I have never explored before.

BTW, can someone also tell me what the other above scalings represent?

Scott Yee

[This message has been edited by Scottyee (edited 12-10-2000).]

#200926 - 12/10/00 11:51 PM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Clif Anderson Offline

Registered: 02/17/00
Posts: 532
Hi Scott

I grew up thinking that Oriental meant Japan, Korea, and China. But the other definition refers to West Asia near the Mediterranean. So far, it appears that an Oriental keyboard is primarily an Arabic keyboard, with Turkey coming in second. Arabic tuning, like Western tuning, divides the octave into 12 parts, so it fits a piano keyboard nicely. As with just intonation (non-equal temperament) the exact tuning depends on the key. For an Arabic scale on C, the change from equal temperament is: C=-6, C#=+45, D=-2, Eb=-12, E=-51, F=-8, F#=+43, G=-4, G#=+47, A=0, Bb=-10, B=-49. The differentials are given in cents (hundredths of a semitone). (Probably, this is one of your presets on the KN-5000). Several of the tones are about half-way between the equal temperament notes.

You might guess I have been reading recently on this subject, inspired by the many posters on the subject and the hundreds of Arabic and other MidEastern styles that are appearing at MIDI-Style-Atlas eGroup. (We also got our first Chinese style today.)

Other than the scale control, the sounds are important. Oriental keyboards tend to include an Arabic drum kit. I think one is now specified in GM Level 2, so this is less unusual than it was. Also, there are some MidEast instruments like the Oud that are not well represented in mainstream arrangers.

Well, that should hold you until the experts show up.

#200927 - 12/10/00 11:55 PM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Clif Anderson Offline

Registered: 02/17/00
Posts: 532
By the way, Slendro and Pelog are gamelan tunings for Indonesian music. Both are pentatonic. A distinctive feature of gamelan tunings is that the exact pitches are not critical. What is important is the relative pitches of the instruments in a gamelan orchestra. While Western instruments are tuned to avoid beating, Gamelan music takes advantage of the beatings between notes for trance-like effects.

#200928 - 12/11/00 07:26 AM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
George Kaye Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/24/99
Posts: 3295
Loc: Reseda, California USA
Please give the exact site address for this midi style atlas egroup site. I would love to check it out.
George Kaye
George Kaye
Kaye's Music Scene
Reseda, California

#200929 - 12/11/00 08:31 AM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Clif Anderson Offline

Registered: 02/17/00
Posts: 532
Hi George

The URL for the MIDI-Styles-Atlas is
If this does not work, ask again, and I will send you (and anyone else that is having trouble finding it) an invitation.

You must subscribe to take advantage of the 'Atlas eGroup. There will be a "subscribe" link that lets you do this. While subscribing, consider the delivery options. By default, you will receive all postings as e-mail. People getting too much e-mail already can select "no mail/web only" and the 'Atlas group will work like a forum that you visit.

The 'Atlas eGroup is an "affirmative action" (no longer politically correct) project to encourage development of styles from otherwise underrepresented cultures. It is intended as a resource both for those looking for styles for their "roots" and for those seeking to explore diverse cultural idioms.

People seeking to join should realize that most of the styles will not work on their keyboards for the simple reason that styles form all arrangers are allowed. I try to ensure that the compatibility is indicated in the file names.

I am happy with the number of people who have joined so far. However, member or not, people with arrangers should be aware of this group for when they need that hard-to-find ethnic or regionally evocative style.

George, you are a valuable resource at Synthzone and I would be happy to have you check out the 'Atlas eGroup.

[This message has been edited by Clif Anderson (edited 12-11-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Clif Anderson (edited 12-11-2000).]

#200930 - 12/11/00 11:56 AM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
vic83 Offline

Registered: 12/31/69
Posts: 610
Loc: Florida
oriental keyboards were called that because the keyboards are made in Europe(like E-40,EM-50OR,E-500OR,E-14OR,WK2....)and what's under Europe is basicly the Arab countrys. that's why it's called oriental keyboards(by guessing).

Clif just to let you know that their is no Arabic drums kit in the GM level two.they are basicly the 8 normal drums plus SFX so that makes them nine


#200931 - 12/11/00 01:36 PM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Clif Anderson Offline

Registered: 02/17/00
Posts: 532
Thanks for the correction Vic. I guess I was giving Roland (or whoever did GM Level 2) too much credit. It seems so obvious that General Midi needs to be expanded to handle the surging interest in world music. But being obvious is not the same as actually occurring.

#200932 - 12/11/00 03:56 PM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Fran Carango Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/26/99
Posts: 9673
Loc: Levittown, Pa, USA
Clif, you are correct , in that Roland has an ethnic drum set in the G1000. EM2000 and VA-7...Fran

[This message has been edited by Fran Carango (edited 12-11-2000).]

#200933 - 12/11/00 05:01 PM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Clif Anderson Offline

Registered: 02/17/00
Posts: 532
Thanks, Fran

I guess that means the sounds are there when you perform. However, when sharing Arabic and other "world" MIDIs over the Internet, we are stuck with General Midi approximations. I do not quite understand what the big deal is about Level2, what was added?

#200934 - 12/12/00 09:20 AM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Ilija Petkovski Offline

Registered: 06/04/00
Posts: 193
Loc: Apeldoorn
Oriental Music usually means Music from the East, so Middle-East. But that is only the word. In reality, it means the sound of the drums accompanied by the musical instrument using a lot of rhythm and solo's during which one can Belly Dance!! So it is a combination of nice drums and sounds.
It is so at first Arabic, but also Turkish and a lot of Balkan songs also use the oriental styles and sounds. However, the Arabic Scale is not a necessity for using the sounds and styles such as myself. I dont use the scales myself.


#200935 - 12/14/00 12:30 PM Re: HELP: What is the definition of an "Oriental Keyboard"?
Vquestor Offline

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 554
Think of the word "oriental" in keyboard,
the same as in "oriental" carpet. It is
referring to Middle Eastern countries, and
not to Asia or countries East of Asia.
In my opinion, an "oriental" keyboard or
at least "oriental-capable" keyboard must
have(or at least have the capacity to have) all of the following:
1)Middle Eastern (oriental) Soundset.
This includes oud, kanoun, mizmar, nay,
2)Arabic (oriental) Drum Kit.
This includes arabic tabla AKA darbuka
AKA doumbek, zills AKA sagat,zaghruda AKA
zaghreet (these are screams),riq, doholla,
bendir,deff, dawul, etc.
3)Microtonal Tuning Scales.
The basic designated "oriental" models
have a 1 octave button set where each
activated button lowers that note to a
fixed 1/4 tone (-50 cents). More flexible
keyboards (those usually not designated,
but "oriental-capable")have a range of
microtuning for each note of an octave
(for example +/- 63 cents), so you are
not limited to just -50 cents.

I am trying to put together a list of "oriental" or
"oriental-capable" sound modules. Could
any of you please help.
So far, I have:
Korg i40M

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