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#1903451 - 05/26/12 12:08 PM Music for harpsichord vs. piano?
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1268
Loc: Cleveland, OH
I was looking at some transcriptions of Pachelbel's Canon, and along the way I found one for harpsichord. Aside from not having any dynamic or articulation markings, it looks just like "piano" music. Is this usually the only difference you see between harpsichord versus piano music?
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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#1903463 - 05/26/12 12:40 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano? [Re: MaryBee]
Klaviersüchtig Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/22/12
Posts: 10
As far as I know all music written for harpsichord can also be played on the piano. There may be some restriction to works which were composed for instruments with two manuals, in these cases you have to find an apropriate fingering which works on the piano or you even have to adjust the score a little bit so that it can be played (e.g. Tic Tac Choc from F. Couperin). Dynamic or articulation for baroque music is in the most cases an editorial addition to the score - I think the composers back in these days assumed that everybody knows how to play the music anyway.

BR, KS

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#1904560 - 05/28/12 05:53 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: Klaviersüchtig]
Johan B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 1824
Loc: The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
Hi there,

The music for harpsichord was written without dynamic, because those instruments had no possibility to realize this.

There has been some development in the technics of instruments. When, let's say, Bach had known the new opportunities, he would have used it.

Purists nowadays are saying that you have to play Bach or other 'old' music without dynamic. It is a basic discussion around performers of the old music.

You can play all harpsichord music at he piano. I like to play the 'old' music with dynamic. The only problem is that you need to make your own interpretation or listening to the great pianists.

Best regards,
JohanB
_________________________
Yamaha clp320PE(sold) Kawai CA95SB

My two mottos:
'Music is a way of living' & 'Nil volentibus arduum'
https://m.youtube.com/user/JohanBenjaminsMusic

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#1904593 - 05/28/12 06:59 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
Andy in NC Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/03/12
Posts: 13
Loc: Raleigh, NC, USA
To my understanding, the harpsichord had no real dynamic expression short of adding a stop. The clavichord had just a hair of dynamic variability, but the instrument in its own right was not loud at all.

With today's digital instruments, it's not a far flung idea to switch to "harpsichord", turn off "touch response" and have a ball...close your eyes and imagine Bach sitting next to you.

-a.
_________________________
----------------
Kawai CA63

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#1904594 - 05/28/12 06:59 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2165
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
How timely this topic is.. I just saw a harpsichord at 1,000 USD. But it did not seems to have all 88 keys. Does any one know how many keys should it have? I am thinking that you should have the same number of keys and maybe what I saw was a fake harpsichord.. It sounded very interesting. I was intrigued. I felt like being in more direct contact with the strings. When I touched keys, I wanted to play Bach invention or something.. I needed a score since I don't remember any of them.
_________________________
Solo - Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Beethoven Sonata #14-2, Granados Spanish Dance #2


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#1904626 - 05/28/12 08:02 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3440
Loc: Maine
Harpsichords don't have 88 keys. Early pianos didn't, either. The 88-key keyboard developed in the 1800s.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1904732 - 05/28/12 11:29 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1268
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Okay, I see that some piano music would not work well on a harpsichord. And maybe that's why they labeled this piece as being for harpsichord -- because it was written so that it doesn't need any pedaling or dynamics to sound good.

I wonder about the inverse case though. Is there harpsichord music that would not work well played on a piano?

BTW, what is a "stop" on a harpsichord?
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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#1904874 - 05/29/12 07:13 AM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 826
Loc: Dorset, UK
A "stop" refers to a set (register) of strings. Harpsichords usually had 2, often 3, probably exceptionally more. Levers - above the keyboard or on the side of the case or underneath the keyboard and then operated by the knees - enabled the player to engage different sets of strings. A separate row of jacks plucked its own set of strings. Depending upon the length of the string - normal pitch, octave higher, octave lower, and the plucking point relative to the string - different tonal colours were possible and of course combinations of colours. In addition, many harpsichords had a row of felt (peau de buffle) wedges which could be connected to one set of strings, thus providing a dryer sound. Harpsichords came in all shapes and sizes: one manual, two manual, two manual with a pedalboard and the number of keys varied across time, gradually being added to. There were 4 main types (and therefore soundscapes) of harpsichord based upon country: Italian - light toned; French (including Flemish, before anyone corrects me) - complex sonorous tonal qualities; German - solid, relatively heavy sounding; English - which developed somewhat later and in my view lost the French qualities whilst becoming somewhat heavy in tone.

On the subject of playing harpsichord music on the modern piano I have strong views. Very strong views. So, for me, Bach and Scarlatti - fine. In fact Scarlatti can very often be realised very effectively on the modern piano. French harpsichord music - Rameau, Couperin, Duphly etc etc is a no-no on the piano for me. A shame: I owned a French harpsichord for 20 years and have all Couperin, Rameau and Duphly solo harpsichord sheet music, but I cannot realise them on the piano. Handel - I have all of his works too - I cannot get on with on the piano either, although in theory it ought to work. My own individual tastes.

FarmGirl: you are quite right, you are in direct contact via the plectrum with the strings, you feel it bend then pluck. It is possible to vary the dynamics by the speed of depressing the key but it's so subtle that it's hardly worth claiming harpsichords have any real dynamic capacity. You create accents by holding notes on fractionally longer and phrasing etc is all done by articulation.

1,000 USD for a harpsichord? Either the bargain of the century, or any century, or one which may well sound worse than an average digital piano harpsichord voice. My harpsichord cost £1,500 in 1972, I sold it for £7,000 20 years later, but I recently saw on sale a similar one - same age, same maker, - a cool 36,000 USD, so I didn't gain much and certainly couldn't afford to go back into this field. My Kawai RX2 suits me fine. Hope this helps.

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#1904942 - 05/29/12 09:40 AM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: sandalholme]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1268
Loc: Cleveland, OH
sandalholme - Thank you for that very informative reply! Now I'm wondering about the manuals. Can a different stop be applied to each one, thereby producing two different types of sound at once?
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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#1904956 - 05/29/12 10:16 AM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 826
Loc: Dorset, UK
Yes, generally one manual drives one set of strings and the other manual another set - at normal pitch (8 foot stops in the jargon), so shifting from one manual to another alters the sound. The lower manual usually has jacks plucking a little nearer the centre of the strings, producing a warmer sound than the upper manual which plucks nearer the end of the strings. But there are a number of ways of constructing a harpsichord. I am describing the classic Flemish design developed by the Ruckers family and further extended and developed by the French school of harpsichord makers. Combining the manuals together - usually by pushing the lower manual away from the player - produces a combined sound. In this way, say in the Italian concerto, the upper manual plays the solo parts and the lower combined with the upper plays the tuttis. If the harpsichord has a 4 foot stop - octave higher than normal - this can be added appropriately or indeed played on its own.

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#1904966 - 05/29/12 10:31 AM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: MaryBee]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2165
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Sandalholme, wow it sounds like it's really involved to select a harpsichord that I can live with. I am glad I did not buy. Someday though. I will buy one after much research like when I bought my piano. I love string instrument sound. I used to study violin too as a child. Although the Harpsichord sounds more like Harp then violin.
_________________________
Solo - Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Beethoven Sonata #14-2, Granados Spanish Dance #2


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#1905039 - 05/29/12 01:02 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: FarmGirl]
Johan B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 1824
Loc: The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
Originally Posted By: FarmGirl
How timely this topic is.. I just saw a harpsichord at 1,000 USD. But it did not seems to have all 88 keys. Does any one know how many keys should it have? I am thinking that you should have the same number of keys and maybe what I saw was a fake harpsichord.. It sounded very interesting. I was intrigued. I felt like being in more direct contact with the strings. When I touched keys, I wanted to play Bach invention or something.. I needed a score since I don't remember any of them.


As I know, the original harpsichords had 52 keys. 4 octaves C - c - c1 - c3. I know from some with higher keys untill f3

Just like this........ Harpsichord

Best regards,
Johan B
_________________________
Yamaha clp320PE(sold) Kawai CA95SB

My two mottos:
'Music is a way of living' & 'Nil volentibus arduum'
https://m.youtube.com/user/JohanBenjaminsMusic

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#1905053 - 05/29/12 01:24 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: Johan B]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1606
Loc: Georgia, USA
61 keys has become more standard now, I think, if you can call anything standard about the keyboard size of harpsichords. This corresponds with the size of the modern organ keyboard, which makes sense.

Sam

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#1905170 - 05/29/12 05:25 PM Re: Music for harpsichord vs. piano?iste [Re: FarmGirl]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1268
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: FarmGirl
I love string instrument sound. I used to study violin too as a child. Although the Harpsichord sounds more like Harp then violin.
Just last week I spoke with a harp player after a performance and finally learned how a harp works! I didn't realize there was so much to it. I am so impressed by instrument designers -- they were amazing engineers!
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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