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harpsichord

This harpsichord, the most expensive of Kirckman’s models, was far beyond ordinary means. Nevertheless, it placed at the command of one who could afford it, an impressive array of sounds. With its two keyboards, three sets of strings and two pedal-operated devices, it had the most up-to-date specification. The left pedal facilitates quick changes in tone colour and volume. The right pedal operates a Nag’s head swell which creates gradations in volume by lifting and lowering the front portion of the lid. Its buff stop applies a set of leather pads to the strings giving a muffled, less percussive sound, and the lute stop plucks the strings very close to one of its end points yielding a very nasal sound. English harpsichords of this era represent both the instrument's apogee and the heralding of its eventual eclipse by the piano. During this extended period of transition, music began to demand expressive effects, such as the creation of gradual crescendo and diminuendo within a single phrase, which were more easily accomplished on an instrument with touch sensitive dynamics, like the piano.

Inaugural performance by Jane Chapman on 29 January 2014, at launch of At Home With Music exhibition.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. More information on the objects listed on our website.
This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be some errors.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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