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Be a harpsichord expert! Tips, terms, *buyable* bibliography, repairs, maintenance and technical stuff (a lot of this is still under construction, we are writing as fast as we can...)

Tips, How-to's and FAQ's

  • Harpsichord and early keyboard FAQ's. Your basic what-is-a-harpsichord stuff.
  • How to shop for a harpsichord
  • Recipes -- it had to happen!
  • On how the play the harpsichord, a crash course for pianists
    • the difference between piano touch and harpsichord touch, from piano and harpsichord super-teacher Martha Beth Lewis.
    • adapting piano arrangements for use on the harpsichord
  • In praise of the short-octave bass
  • On finding a good teacher, again from Martha Beth Lewis.
  • How often to tune? A consideration based on 30 years of observation.

Terms

Tuning and Maintenance How-to's

 

Bibliography -- Good books about harpsichords. Most of these are available through on-line and conventional booksellers or in libraries. The pictures at the right will take to to Amazon where you can buy one for your own. Or for a friend, they all make very nice gifts.

  • Harpsichord Owners Guide: A Manual For Buyers And Owners, Edward L. Kottick, 180 pages,
    University of North Carolina Press; paperback ISBN: 0807843881 (rev. Oct. 1992) around $27.50 USD; hardcover ISBN: 0807817457 (rev. October 1987) around $50 USD. This is an excellent survey of the harpsichord, its action, history, selection and maintenance. Buy and read this *before* you buy that harpsichord!
  • Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making, Frank T. Hubbard, 364 pages, Harvard Univ Press; hardcover ISBN: 0674888456 (June 1972) around $45 USD. An overview of historical harpsichords -- national styles, famous historic builders, historic methods and materials, that sort of thing. Frank's sources include contemporary accounts and inventories as well as modern research on surviving historical instruments. This is the first comprehensive modern work on this topic and still remains the best. Although more research has changed some of Frank's conclusions, this is still the starting place for all of us present-day harpsichord builders
  • Harpsichord Technique : A Guide to Expressivity, Nancy Metzger, Musica Dulce; ISBN: 0962493414; 2nd spi edition (January 1998) around $35 USD (with companion cassette tape). How to play the things. Not easy to find these days, but there are usually a few used copies out there.
  • Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840, Donald H. Boalch, 824 pages, Oxford Univ Pr; ASIN: 019318429X; 3rd edition (December 1995). Most recent edition of *the* standard reference work. Pretty heavy reading, but in the harpsichord world the way you end an argument is, "Boalch says..."
  • How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care), Ross W. Duffin. A breezy read and an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to understand and use tunings other than equal. The 'people who bought this also bought' is essentially a survey of the literature on temperaments, if you want to get into the weeds.

 

TUNING METERS!!!! Life is much simpler if you have a good meter. Well, if your life includes tuning instruments, anyway. These are the meters we use and heartily recommend. You can order them below. Note: These links go to suppliers. These guys buy in quantity and can sell them to you for cheaper than we can buy them wholesale. But don't worry, you won't be trapped into buying anything. Go ahead and check them out, and if you don't want to buy, or don't want to buy now, just hit the 'back' button or the "x" on your browser
Korg CA-30 and very similar CA40 -- Your basic vanilla October 8, 2010 only, but will do every note on your h'chord. You can tweak to any temperament from there, and *way* more convenient than a tuning fork. Click on the link to the right for more info and/or to order. Korg CA-30 from Gear1 Music (ALA)
Chromatic tuner
Korg OT-120 (OT as in Orchestral Tuner). Does equal temperament, of course, and 11 other temperaments including Valotti, Kirnberger, Kellner and Werkmeister. Click on the link to the right for more info and/or to order.. Korg OT-120 from SpringdaleMusic-dot-com
Korg MT-40 -- Tuner and metronome in one. Equal temperament only, but really handy at rehearsals. Tap-in feature lets you tap the tempo, it tells you what the metronome marking is. Click on the link to the right for more info and/or to order. Korg MT-40 from Shoreline Music (AmFulf)

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last updated October 8, 2010