The Harpsichord has already been invented at the end of the 14th century , presumably by the Viennese physicist , physician and astrologer Hermann Poll ( * ca. 1360 ) developed very probably from the " Psalter " (or " Psalter " called ) . (gr psallo . " pluck a string " ).


This is evident (see Edward Kottik "A History of the harpsichord ," Indiana Press, 2003 page 10-11 ) from a letter of 1397, in the poll by a " clavicembalum " speaks .


There is also a poem by Eberhard Cersne of 1404 in the " Minne rule" (E. Kottick , ibid . , S.11-12 ) , where a list of various instruments also a " clavicymbolum " is mentioned.


Oldest known pictorial representation is the n the altar of Minden 1425.


Extract from a concert presented by Tasto Solo (Guillermo Pérez, organetto and David Catalunya, clavisimbalum). Fundación Juan March.

Henri Arnault de Zwolle (* 1400 , † September 6, 1466 in Paris) was a French physician and astronomer at the court of the Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good . He wrote in 1440 the first blueprint for an instrument with 37 keys and 10 pairs of strings and in the Weimar miracle book ( 1440 ) is a clavichord with multiple equal-length strings displayed .




1) There is a keyboard instrument whose strings are plucked or plucked with picks. It used to be used for their preparation feathers, now plastic.

The picks are on thin four-sided wooden strips, called jumpers, mounted: This name refers to its triggered by depressing the key vertical movement.


The old-Italian name of the instrument was Arpicordo (in English Harpsichord). He describes his nature vividly as a harp with keyboard.


The recent Italian name Clavicembalo combines the concepts Cymbalum - a idiophone whose shiny metallic sound reminiscent of the sound of the harpsichord - and Clavis - a key that is similar to the shape of the C key.



Each key can have one or several strings (or register) to briefly: Is it 8 'stops (a term that was derived from the organ building), then the resulting tones "in unison," ie, of the same pitch; is it 4'-register, so they are an octave higher.


In Germany some harpsichords were additionally equipped with 16'-registers whose sound is one octave lower.


The harpsichord is often only a keyboard, but especially in the eighteenth century, many instruments have been built with two keyboards. The two keyboards are not phonetically; they can be coupled with a mechanical device.


The range of these instruments followed the needs of the times: In the sixteenth century, it was about four octaves (from where the bottom, the so-called "short octave", consisted of only 8 shades), in the eighteenth century full five octaves.


For many, this time is considered the golden age of the harpsichord, so the philosopher Voltaire described the harpsichord as the "king of instruments".


In the second half of the eighteenth century, the general aesthetic tastes changed profoundly; Therefore, the harpsichord suffered under increasing competition from the fortepiano. It was only in the early 20th century it was rehabilitated as part of the rediscovery of the repertoire of JS Bach by famous artists such as Wanda Landowska.


The harpsichords that time are still yet: your sound quality is, however, absolutely unsatisfactory because of their exceptional pianos-inspired materials and construction methods.


Thanks to the pioneering work of harpsichord makers as F. W. Hubbard and Dowd one came after 1950 back to the historical tradition.


The exact analysis of early instruments in museums and collections allowed the construction of historical copies, ie of instruments that hardly differed in terms of building materials and the manufacturing process of the old systems.


For three centuries the harpsichord has adapted to the different musical demands of the times and of each country.


1 ) Excerpt from William Horn


A first introduction to the complex topic " harpsichord " offer the following websites: