Professional Keyboard for Carnatic - Korg X-50
Though there are a number of keyboards available with pitch bend knobs, most of the the keyboards do not have good tones that support playing of carnatic gamakas.
The pitch bend knob can not solve the issue of gamakas totally, as most of the keyboards have only +2/-2 pitch bend range. The pitch bend range decides how much you can bend the swaras, and hence in such keyboards, we can play only limited gamakas, which are not sufficient to play fine carnatic.
Selection of tone is also very important to use the technology available in these instruments. Normally wind instruments, reed instruments are not suitable to use these technologies. Some guitar tones, in particular Jazz Guitar tone is the most suitable one for playing carnatic music. This tone also combines well with legato, portamento effects to produce gamakas. Korg X-50 is also a light weight model, and is very easy to carry.
Use of Portamento & Legato in some advanced Keyboards
These facilities work better in advanced keyboards like Korg X50, M50 etc.
The portamento facility gives a glide from one note to another, when the second note is played, holding the first one. Though it gives some glide, it can not match with the same glide we get when we play on manual instruments like violin, veena etc.
The legato setting gives some connection between notes, but it gives different effects based on the touch pressure on the notes., and it requires special practice to handle this effect in the keyboard. Sometimes we get very good effects accidentally, and in some other time we do not get the effect. To have a perfect control over the effect, we have to analyse it carefully, applying proper finger pressure. There are some keyboard artists who have done a lot of practice in these areas, but yet bringing 100% correct gamakas is impossible in keyboard, when compared to manual instruments.
Learning Electronic Keyboard becomes interesting, if you have a good Keyboard with beautiful voices, rhythm patterns, required funcions like transpose, tuning, metronome, dual voice, pitch bend, etc. These features make learning lively and creative.
There are two good models from Yamaha PSR E413 & I425, with all the above features, and in addition, very good speakers & anybody will really love to play on these Keyboards. PSR I-425 has some Indian tones & tabla rhytms, which is not available in any other model. These models will cost around US$350 - 400. If you are looking for a Keyboards at higher price range, say around $800 - 900, you may go for PSR S700 or S800.
If you go for models below the above price range, either the sound quality will be poor or the features will be restricted. So in my opinion, you may begin with PSR E413 or I425 and upgrade to S700 or S800 at a later date. Wish you all the best.
What are 'Styles' in Keyboard
"Styles" are different patterns of rhythms. Generally there are a lot of rhythm patterns, out of which, a few have been provided in the Keyboard. Anybody can compose a 'Style' according to their imagination & taste. While learning the basic lessons, it is better to play lessons with simple rhythm patterns like 8 beat (or) 16 beat.