The clavichord



"Wer aber darnach der sey gewesen / der das erfunden oder erdacht hab / ..also clavicordium hab getauffet / oder genennet / waiß ich nit", says Virdungs ​​Musica getutscht from the year 1511. The knowledge of the inventor, name, time and place was therefore already lost at the beginning of the 16th century, albeit still Athanasius Kircher in 1650 the great music scholar of the 11th century, Guido of Arezzo, among many merits also assigns the invention of the clavichord. This assignment has caused much confusion. Only in the middle of the last century, the Austrian music historian August Wilhelm Ambros was after careful evaluation of written and iconographic sources the period of the emergence of the instrument to the 2nd half of the 14th century. Narrow. To date, applies also his suggestion that the clavichord was built in Italy.


The Minne rules of Eberhard Cersne from Minden (1404) are the first known literary evidence. Here the term clavichordium is clearly distinguished from other instrument names. Namely in the Concert of Angels of Minden altar - from this period probably the oldest pictorial representation of a clavichord comes.


The earliest detailed description of an even dreioktavigen clavichord are Henry Arnaut de Zwolle to 14254 in his instrument treatise.


In so-called Weimar engineering, art and curiosities book emerged in 1440, there is a further illustration of a clavichord with multiple equal-length strings.


(© Excerpt: Gesine Haase, State Institute for Music Research Prussian Cultural Heritage, Berlin)

  1. Johann Adolph Hass (1713-1771), Clavichord, Hamburg 1760, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, © Foto: Roman Raacke

The keys to move the so-called . Tangents ( small rectangular pieces of brass ) which hit the strings and dampen it.


The great advantage of the clavichord are the dynamic possibilities . The attack is extremely sensitive ; it gives the feeling of touching the strings with your fingers .


However, the damping effect is so strong that the instrument sounds very quiet . That's why the Chlavichord especially for practicing solo repertoire is suitable in special rooms .


The clavichord may be bound or free . When bound clavichord two or three notes on one string generated in semitone intervals.


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Open Library:

„Geschichte des Klavichords“

Published 1910 by E. Birkhäuser in Basel .

Written in German.