Harpsichord Manual: A Historical and Technical Discussion

Harpsichord Manual: A Historical and Technical Discussion

Harpsichord Manual: A Historical and Technical Discussion

Harpsichord Manual: A Historical and Technical Discussion

Excerpt

The early music is still alive! This fact can no longer be taken as a mere transitory fashion, as the curious habit of a few isolated music lovers, or as a dealing in antiques totally out of step with the times. It must rather be seen as a logical and consequent development that the renaissance of our musical culture has brought new life to early music instruments. Music, if it is really to live again, must sound and this, in turn, requires the proper medium for performance. It is indeed possible to use modern instruments for the performance of old and pre-classic music, but this is a mere substitute, a transplanting on foreign soil. Today we know something of that mysterious affinity between the music itself and the technique in the construction of instruments, by which, in all periods of music history, the potentialities of the instruments to sound go hand in hand with the goals of musical expression, so that the musical ideal of each period requires its specific medium, peculiar to it alone. Thus, the spirit and form of early music, if it is really to be revived, require the proper sound media in order to remain true to the music itself and to maintain purity in style. The revival of the music of early times, therefore, could not go without influence on the construction of instruments.

The procession of early musical instruments brought to new life was begun by the harpsichord, followed by the viola da gamba, the viola d'amore, the lute, the baroque organ, the recorder, the vielle, etc. In accordance with its important position among these early instruments, the harpsichord, which has not been totally eclipsed by its modern successor, the piano, and its whole family of related instruments, should be taken by itself and treated more thoroughly than has yet been done in the literature on musical instruments.

Together with an historical discussion the author will take up the construction of early harpsichords and questions relating to modern instrument building, which fall close to his own province of activity.

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