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Thread: Do you like the sound of the harpsichord?

  1. #1
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    Do you like the sound of the harpsichord?

    There have been some discussion on various threads about people's view on the harpsichord. I personally find the sound, including that of the modern harpsichord, moderately annoying, to the point of actually avoiding music that has excessive harpsichord sound (barely audible, background continuo is OK). I even got the B minor mass version that doesn't have harpsichord, to enhance my enjoyment of the work.


    What say you, how do you feel about the harpsichord?
    Last edited by Krummhorn; Feb-24-2017 at 17:00. Reason: external links removed

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Okay for a limited time - since the sound is always the same (tone and volume) it can get quite monotonous after a little while as a solo instrument. However the two manual instruments have greater variety in tone and often a 4' pitch and when the two manuals can be coupled together.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    I like most of what I have on record, especially pedal harpsichord.
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    There is a very good reason why the harpsichord was virtually superseded by the piano - which, as I am sure you all know, is short for "pianoforte", i.e. soft/loud, something that is beyond the capabalities of the harpsichord and other early keyboard instruments.

    There is nothing wrong with the sound of the haprsichord as such, however its limitations make it much less suited for a long solo work or an extended appearance within a composition. It can sound very effective as an accessory instrument. You probably wouldn't write a whole solo work for Chinese gong, but its appearance at the right moment can dramatically enhance a musical work.

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    I don't like it and go along with bob32116 above.
    I don’t want a signature any more

  7. #6
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    What Bob 32116 said.

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    I don't want to be picky but fortepiano before pianoforte, just saying, thats all, no big deal.
    Last edited by JHC; Feb-25-2017 at 08:50.
    I don’t want a signature any more

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata John Watt's Avatar
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    Oh no, I've got a lot of Niagara Peninsula content, about harpsichords.

    However, reading about it above, now explains that even when I played one,
    it just seemed tinkly, you're right, it's just a note that goes nowhere.

    But, that's just me playing a historic instrument when I was there.
    What harpsichords mean for me is the first option for electric pianos,
    and who wanted a harpsichord sound for rock bands onstage?
    So that's the harpsichord I heard for demonstrations and fooling around,
    a bad, pre-digital sample, that I now see as being as unresponsive as the real thing.

    Korg, with little two octave keyboard synths that had a couple of sounds,
    had a really nice organ sound, with a few stops like a Hammond organ.
    They were the popular synths back then.
    No harpsichords, or ancestral Japanese stringed instruments there.

    Harpsichords have a chiming, ringing sound.
    If you used a heavy phase shifter and deepened the tone,
    the shimmering phase sound would come out,
    maybe sounding like the tones of electric guitars in corporate rock bands like Asia,
    and Duran Duran.
    That could also make a wash of sound, sustaining the sound, nice.

    I also heard, over here, over-hearing,
    that the as-yet-untitled Frederik Magle bought a joker's outfit,
    like the one Orville Gibson wore, when he played left-handed with bass on the bottom,
    like me,
    and he's going to do a harpsichord thing where he dances on it,
    and strums the strings. I feel a USB port coming on.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SophiaL View Post
    There have been some discussion on various threads about people's view on the harpsichord. I personally find the sound, including that of the modern harpsichord, moderately annoying, to the point of actually avoiding music that has excessive harpsichord sound (barely audible, background continuo is OK). I even got the B minor mass version that doesn't have harpsichord, to enhance my enjoyment of the work.


    What say you, how do you feel about the harpsichord?
    Interesting point. I don't know of any modern compositions using harpsichord so to me it is just of historical interest. But to understand and experience Bach fully I cannot recommend to exclude this instrument, it is part of his master work.

  11. #10
    Rear Admiral Appassionata John Watt's Avatar
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    If you ever saw the green with gold painting harpsichord that I played,
    just the artwork is worth it.
    However, having 88 keys is where it's at, unless you have more.
    .

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    My former parish had just acquired a two manual harpsichord just prior to my leaving for another church. I never got much of a chance to play it as it needed substantial repairs (some new jacks, a few new strings, new felts under the keys and re-regulation of the keyboards).

    Used to work in a music store where we had a Sabathil harpsichord (in the front window no less). Part of my job was to keep it in tune which was a total pain the bazoo, but, the money was good, so why the heck not?

  13. #12
    Rear Admiral Appassionata John Watt's Avatar
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    You can tune a harpsichord, but you can't tune a fish.

  14. #13
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    Listen to this "muted" harpsichord. This is fantastic!


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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    I do like it for Baroque period music. I have used one in performance of Vivaldi's Gloria
    Last edited by wljmrbill; Oct-18-2017 at 04:14. Reason: spelling error
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
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    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

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