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The First Keyboard

The hydraulis, the first keyboard musical instrument, is attributed to the Greek engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE.

The instrument was a water organ that produced sound when pressurized air was pushed through tubes or pipes, as selected using a keyboard.

These instruments were used in Greek and Roman temples accompanied by other instruments.

The sound of the first water organ has now been recreated. Take a trip back in time with Justus Wilberg playing a water organ reconstructed from the metal pieces discovered in Budapest, which once was within the Roman Empire.

Works cited:

“Building a Working Model 1st Century Hydraulis.”,

“The Water Organ.”,

“The Origins of the Pipe Organ: The Birth of the Pipe Organ - Musical Instrument Guide - Yamaha Corporation.”,


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