HarpsichordMHIPaper - Cheyenne Rogers 15 December 2016...

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Cheyenne Rogers 15 December 2016 Music History I Dr. Schroeder The Relation of Harpsichord Construction to Authentic Performance Practice of Baroque Music For the average person, a harpsichord is an instrument fuzzy in use and construction, if the person in question even is aware of its existence. However, in the field of musicology, its authentic performance practices are hotly debated, and rarely utilized in popular contexts. In the course of this paper, I will describe the evolution of harpsichord construction and mechanism, illuminate historically accurate Baroque performance practices, and discuss modern developments in this field while evaluating those developments’ place in the authenticity debate among musicologists. As I explain these three main topics, I intend to draw connections between authentic harpsichord techniques and the construction of the instrument itself. First, I will describe the evolution of harpsichord construction and mechanism. The harpsichord’s origins are somewhat unclear; however, according to Kottick, a man named Hermann Poll may have been its inventor. The harpsichord likely derived from the psaltery, an early plucked instrument. In essence, the harpsichord is a psaltery with a keyboard mechanism attached (11-12). French harpsichords, built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, are frequently lauded as the pinnacle of the instrument’s construction–– “sophisticated [...] lightly quilled [...with] a great smoothness and sweetness of tone, [...as well as a] refined action [which was] particularly well suited to the highly ornamented French style” (Bond 38-39).
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Various historically accurate techniques used while playing a harpsichord include a large number of such that are quite foreign to pianists. One such technique, “overlegato,” involves
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