Gary Blaise Early Keyboard Instruments
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As far as the clavichord・s resurgence in this last decade of the twentieth century, there have been some encouraging signs. Among these are the Japanese Clavichord Society which boasts about 100 members and a few teachers who requires a year of clavichord study of their organ students. In my own experience, I have found that those who like the clavichord at all, like it very much and appreciate it in a fanatical way for practice. After David Yearsley and Annette Richards won every prize for solo and duet organ playing at the1994 Brugge competition, David exclaimed, :I owe it all to the clavichord.; The clavichord had been David・s primary practice instrument for many years. In addition, he and Annette had been practicing on a pedal clavichord in the previous year. Finally, however, the most convincing reason to consider the clavichord as a practice instrument can be furnished through the immediate elevation of your own keyboard technique.

Which Clavichord Should I Consider ? . . .

In the four hundred years between 1404 and 1832 there have been five types of clavichords, both fretted and unfretted, each particularly useful for music of a specific period. Of these, it is perhaps the double-fretted instrument of the 18th century which is the most versatile. The later, unfretted instruments, are not as clear as they could be for polyphonic music. Their 5-octave range and fret-free design may be essential, however, if you・re a post 18th century specialist with a six foot wing span . . . you・re gonna need it to simultaneously reach the keys and tuning pins of those last few notes in the bass. This, and the fact that your typical 5-octave instrument has 120 strings to tune, probably explains why I have yet to go into anyone・s house and find one of these instruments in tune. Instruments earlier than double-fretted are lovely, the heavy fretting quickly teaching one to lift up one・s fingers. However, unless you・re a Renaissance specialist, the keyboard range and fretting system are far too limiting for Bach. Fortunately, the best examples of the double-fretted instrument are just perfect for it. Some models have enough keys and are tonally expansive enough to accommodate later literature as well. They are not too large, with some small historical models appearing to have been designed specifically for travel. Best of all, they・re fretted so you get to lift up your fingers and learn to be precise. A typical double-fretted instrument of modest range, 51 notes C - d;・, will have only 35 string pairs to tune. Instruments like this are currently available from many builders in a range of price and there are even kits available.



2 Marshall, a) photos, v.II
3 The composition for this engraving appears to have been inspired by Manieri's painting, 'Madonna and Child', c.1491. See Libin, p.6.
4 Bowles, p.16, #31
5 Ripin, pp.16, 17
6 Turk, p.12
7 Just kidding. Trying to keep you awake.
8 Marshall, (b) p. 549
9 Brauchli, pp. 83, 83
10 Jeans, p. 2, from Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, v.II, p. 61
11 It reminds me of Mattheson's story, however romanticized, of Froberger who was robbed then beset by pirates near England during a channel crossing, c1650. He shows up penniless in London and lands a job pumping the at Westminster. Some time later, pumping for a royal presentation, he becomes bored and neglects the bellows. The organ stops. The organist has a royal fit, beats him, and leaves. Froberger, sensing an opportunity, pumps up the bellows, runs over to the keyboard while the wind lasts, and improvises, whereupon his unique style is recognized by one of the royal guests, a former student, who rescues him from his predicament. # I imagine Smokey would have frowned on this practice.
12 Brauchli, pp. 83, 86
13 Helenius-Oberg, cover illustration
14 Forkel, p. 59
15 Russell, p. 26
16 C.P.E. Bach, pp. 36, 37
17 Burney, p. 278, v.I
18 Kirkpatrick, p.2 96
19 Spitta, 'Specificato' article #8, pp. 358, 359
20 Hubbard, p. 271
21 Turk, p. 12
22 gut-stringed harpsichord
22a In a letter to a friend, Bach's cousin, J.G.Walther tells us that his (Walther's) son was sent away to study with a pedal clavidhord (beckmann and Schultz, p. 192). Not surprisingly, J.C. Kittle, one of Bach's favorite pupils, considered practice on the pedal clavichord to be of great importance and allowed his students to practice on his own which he had at home. Forkel・s student, Fredericcio Griepenkerl, tells us that 'all organ students had such instruments at home on which to practice hands and feet'! (Jeans p. 9)

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