HISTORY AND ORIGINATORS OF KEYBOARD Essay

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HISTORY AND ORIGINATORS OF KEYBOARD
BAROQUE PERIOD

Harpsichord (Italian cembalo; French clavecin), stringed keyboard instrument in which the strings are plucked to produce sound. It was developed in Europe in the 14th or 15th century and was widely used from the 16th to the early 19th century, when it was superseded by the piano. In the 20th century the harpsichord was revived for performance of music of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, as well as for new compositions. The incisive sound quality of the plucked metal strings adds clarity to melodic lines. The harpsichord is particularly effective in performing contrapuntal music—that is, music that consists of two or more melodies played at the same time, such as that of the German
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A typical two-manual harpsichord of the 18th century had strings at normal and octave-high pitch playable on the lower manual, strings at normal pitch controlled by the upper manual, and a coupling mechanism. Early History The earliest school of harpsichord building developed in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. Italian harpsichords differed from others in that they normally were made of extremely thin wood and then placed in a stronger outer case of the same shape. A second important school of building developed in the 16th and 17th centuries in Flanders, centered around the influential Ruckers family of builders. These schools gave way in the 18th century to distinctive styles of building that developed in France (the Blachet family), Germany (the Hass family), and England (Jacob Kirkman). Harpsichords of the different national schools varied in details of their proportions and construction, resulting in slight, although characteristic differences in tone color. Modern Developments In the 20th century, two broad approaches to harpsichord building emerged. The first utilized recent principles of construction, such as are found in present-day pianos. Stimulated by the Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, this style was exemplified by the French piano firms of Pleyel and Érard. Their harpsichords relied on heavy strings under high tension in a heavily braced case. Many…