How does a harpsichord work?

The metal strings are sounded by plucking with a small piece of material called a plectrum which is attached to the key mechanism. A downward stroke on the key raises the plectrum on the other end so that it plucks the string and then pivots so that it does not touch the string on the way down.

What was the plucking mechanism on a harpsichord?

Plucking mechanism The sound of the wing-shaped harpsichord and its smaller rectangular, triangular, or polygonal relatives, the spinet and virginal, is produced by plucking their strings. The plucking mechanism, called a jack, rests on the key and consists of a narrow slip of wood with two slots cut into its top.

What technique does the harpsichord use?

Harpsichord technique is essentially a finger technique – the arm and shoulder are used to maintain a good hand position and help it move over the keyboard and, as Rameau advises, `no great movement should be made where a lesser one will suffice`.

Why does harpsichord use two keyboards?

Why do some harpsichords have two keyboards? In some designs, the second manual might control strings tuned a fourth (four notes) down from the main keyboard. This allows the harpsichordist to switch to a lower register when required, which frees up the higher registers for a vocal accompaniment.

Why is it called a harpsichord?

A harpsichord (Italian: clavicembalo, French: clavecin, German: Cembalo, Spanish: clavecín, Portuguese: cravo, Dutch: klavecimbel) is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. The term denotes the whole family of similar plucked-keyboard instruments, including the smaller virginals, muselar, and spinet.

How long is a harpsichord?

The Venetian instrument had either a single 8-ft-long (2.4-m-long) choir or two choirs measuring 8 ft (2.5 m) in length (the length of the choir plus the depth of the keys was the approximate total length of the harpsichord).

How many keys does a harpsichord have?

60 key
Before the piano, composers in the Renaissance and Baroque periods composed for the harpsichord. The harpsichord is a 60 key instrument that relies on a plectrum to strike the internal strings, as opposed to a felt hammer on a contemporary piano. As such, the harpsichord limited the range of music to an even 5 octaves.

Is the harpsichord touch sensitive?

Due to its primitive and weak plucking action, the harpsichord did not have a touch-sensitive keyboard; the player had practically no control over the volume of individual notes.

Why is the harpsichord important?

Harpsichord, keyboard musical instrument in which strings are set in vibration by plucking. It was one of the most important keyboard instruments in European music from the 16th through the first half of the 18th century.

How many octaves does a harpsichord have?

By the middle of the 18th century the harpsichord had grown to a normal compass of five full octaves, three or more sets of strings and jacks, and often two keyboards.

How many strings are there on a harpsichord?

Generally, the harpsichord has two or more sets of strings , each of which produces different tone qualities. One set may sound an octave higher than the others and is called a 4-foot register, whereas a set of strings at normal pitch is called an 8-foot register.

Are harpsichords still made?

Harpsichords are still built today by specialty instrument-makers. The harpsichord used a plucking action, meaning its strings were not hammered like those of the piano; they were plucked with “plectra” made of quill or animal hide.

Is a harpsichord a string instrument?

Harpsichord is a stringed musical instrument played using the keyboard. The strings are played using the plucking mechanism with the help of quills attached to the jack that triggers the note when the key is pressed.