Double Manuel Harpsichord made by Geoff Hughes of Bath England
Disposition 2 x 8′, 1 x 4′, Buff
Range- 58+1 noted GG to e3 Transposable A 415/A 440
Dimensions- Length 220 cm Width 86 cm Depth 24 cm
Richly veneered in English walnut and further enhanced by a wide range of decorative veneers of tulip wood, satinwood, and bur walnut. Rear long side is dark stained with no veneers.
Design of a harpsichord is based exclusively on tradition and existing, historical instruments; that is, there is no such thing as a new harpsichord pattern, style, or sound. Harpsichord builders do make adjustments to existing designs, but most of these are out of necessity because historic materials are not available or are not desirable
The harpsichord is the distinguished, classical ancestor of the piano. Its shape, described as a large wing shape, was developed hundreds of years before the similar shape of the grand piano. But the operation of the harpsichord and its history are far different from those of its descendant.
The piano player makes music by fingering keys that strike tightly stretched strings within the piano, and by pushing pedals with the feet that change the dynamics (loudness, softness, and length of tone) of the struck strings. Within the harpsichord, the back of the key is attached not to a hammer but to a vertical jack that has a vertical slot containing a swinging tongue. The tongue grips a plectrum, or pick. As the player’s finger strikes the key, the jack rises, and the plectrum lifts up and plucks the string. As it falls back past the string, the swinging tongue moves to pass the string without touching it and producing a sound. A lightweight spring pushes the tongue back to its original position so the plectrum is ready to pluck the string with the next stroke of that key. In the first 500 years or so of the harpsichord’s history, the plectrum was a quill from the wing of a turkey, eagle, raven, or crow; later plectrums were made of leather or plastic. After plucking the string (which is not as tightly bound as a piano string), the jack has a release device that returns it to the rest position. The harpsichord’s tone depends on where the string is plucked along its length, and the material composing the plectrum. The harpsichord does not have pedals to modify its dynamics; after the string is plucked, its sound dies quickly. Large harpsichords were better able to produce changes in dynamics, but did not come close to the range of dynamics possible with a piano.