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#1029655 - 07/24/08 10:59 PM Harpsichord class
babushka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 21
Loc: chicago
I am taking an introductory harpsichord class this summer. It's a lot of fun and very very interesting. For those of you who have never played a harpsichord, it's not, as I had originally thought, just like playing a funny sounding piano. The touch is entirely different due to the string plucking mechanism and there is an initial resistance to depressing a key. Kind of like pressing into a puddle of water through a very thin layer of ice.

We are playing some easier Bach, Couperin and Byrd pieces - I love the way the music sounds, in some instances, better than on the piano.

I am also finding I need more and finer finger control to keep things even. However, as the only practice instrument available to me is at the stuio, I don't practice much.

For those of you who play both piano and harpsichord - do you find harpsichord playing has improved or had any effect on you piano playing?

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#1029656 - 07/25/08 03:27 AM Re: Harpsichord class
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I'm not crazy about the harpsichord. I was at a recital in Handel's house (he shared with Jimmy Hendrix for 3 months) last night! It is so limited you need to be really skilled. I play a lot of clavichord. The one important thing you'll learn to apply to the piano is not to keybed. On the harpsichord you wouldn't on the clavichord you couldn't.
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#1029657 - 07/25/08 05:55 AM Re: Harpsichord class
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 13502
Loc: Canada
Babushka, what do you think makes the music sound better? It sounds like an attractive instrument to learn to play. Would a good harpsichordist end up with different textures by way of how they depress the keys, and so a different way of bringing the music to life?

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#1029658 - 07/25/08 10:42 PM Re: Harpsichord class
babushka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 21
Loc: chicago
The sound is hard to describe in words, it's more like a guitar or lute. Since I'm only a beginner on the harpsichord, I don't really know all the techniques for varying the sound. But a staccato touch does sound different from legato on the harsphichord; phrasing and timing is very important for emphasis of musical ideas since the dynamic range is so limited. Additionally "finger pedalling" can to some extent increase the richness of the sound; using this technique on Bach's C major prelude from WTC bk 1 makes a really lovely performance. Some harpshichords have certain stops which you can pull out to increase the number of strings which are plucked at each note. Others have more than one manual, one of which will deliver a harder or softer sound than the other.

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