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What's the difference between and harpsichord and a clavichord?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    A harpsichord is a stringed keyboard instrument, differing from the clavichord and the piano in having plucked, rather than struck, strings. Sometimes the name harpsichord is used to refer to the spinet and virginal as well as the harpsichord proper. The first known reference to the instrument appeared in 1397, and it became an important solo instrument, as well as being used in chamber music, orchestral music, and opera.

    Because the sound is produced with a different mechanism, the plucking of the plectrum, it is not surprising that a harpsichord’s sound is quite different from a piano’s. First, a harpsichord may have two keyboards or manuals rather than one, as a piano does. Second, the harpsichord has a smaller range, typical modern instruments having five octaves from F1 to F6, to the piano’s seven-plus octave range, A0-C8. In addition, the harpsichord’s maximum dynamic is softer than a piano’s—making crescendos, decrescendos, and accents impossible—and its notes have very little sustain.

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-harpsichord.htm

    The clavichord is a keyboard instrument, like the harpsichord, piano, virginal, spinet, and accordion. It is in the class known as the box zither, putting it also in the company of the dulcimer and autoharp. The main division in clavichords is between fretted and unfretted versions.

    The clavichord is built in the shape of a rectangle. When the keys are pressed, blades, called tangents, rise to strike the strings above them. The player controls the dynamic by the amount of force used to strike the key, but overall, the instrument is limited in the range of its sound, and cannot play extremely loudly. Because the tangent must be held against the strings and not allowed to bounce off, the touch required for the clavichord is different than for other keyboard instruments.

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-clavichord.htm

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Harpsichord And Clavichord

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Above answers about hitting the strings are absolutely correct. Sound and construction: harpsichords can only play at one level of volume. Clavichords can play loud or soft; they're more like a piano in that way. However, even at its loudest, a clavichord is still very soft, probably the softest of any musical instrument. Clavichords can also play vibrato (like vibrato on a guitar): this effect is also called Bebung, in German. Many (not all) harpsichords have a long shape similar to a grand piano. Clavichords tend to be small, lighter, and rectangular; roughly desk-shaped. You should be able to find pictures online.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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    A harpsichord plucks the strings with a quill plectrum, a clavichord strikes and stops the strings with a metal tangent. Check on-line references to see illustrations of the actions of each instrument.

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