Gary Blaise Early Keyboard Instruments
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  Almost three months are required to make a classical Italian harpsichord. Even a fine little clavichord requires every bit of two months. It is the clavichord's complex keyboard, I suppose, which accounts for time which would be otherwise saved in building an instrument of such simplicity. In either case, and at the end of a long process, our stringed keyboard instrument begins to speak and one hears, for the first time, just what it is that has been created. At this point there is little you can do to alter it's sound. Not that you should want to, of course! With the state of the craft as elevated as it is, there is no reason to have done anything incorrectly. Suppose, however, that, just for the fun of it, you wanted to see what happens when the plucking points of your harpsichord are altered of the scale of your clavichord is shortened. These are virtually impossible alterations. Or perhaps you would like to move the ribs around in an unorthodox manner. This, too, is practically impossible on all but some French and Flemish harpsichords. The builders of these northern-style pluck-o-phones, cleaver pusses that they are, make the bottoms of their instruments somewhat removable, thus allowing access to the underside of the soundboard where ribs like to hang out.

So one day, after years of making stringed keyboards, I awoke in the middle of my life to find myself in need of an instantly gratifying divertissement to my everyday work with stringed keyboards. In due course, this was provided to me, disguised in the unexpected visit of an organ maker colleague of mine. The impromptu visit had the effect of re-awakening in me a long submerged interest in organ making; an interest which had never found expression in my life, I suppose, because of the overwhelming nature of the activity as well as the delinquent effect upon someone who was supposed to be concentrating on the making of stringed keyboards. All the same, I soon found myself day dreaming about some sort'a super simple mechanical recorder consort kind'a thing. With just 13 recorder-like pipes, I mused, I could get a Renaissance range of 45 notes, blissfully ignorant of the grave consequences which lay in store for me in the mechanization of the finger holes, not to mention a hopeless desire to mechanically replicate the effects of breathing and embouchure in recorder playing. It was nonetheless startling to find how my high-school interest in the organ had evolved, without my even knowing it, from the massive instruments of Bigg's formative recordings of the 1960's to the simple single-stopped wooden instrument with which I was now obsessed.

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