Harpsichord, a Full Plectrum of Possibilities!

Why Harpsichord?

It wasn't just Lurch’s favorite pastime on the Addams familyLook past the Victorian Era and cobweb-covered parlors. Plucked strings produce a pure sound and clarity unique among keyboard instruments, delivering a whole new and diverse sonic landscape for music from the 16th century to the present. Harpsichords have been enhancing music from the 50s, 60s and 70s to today’s hits, including The Beatles – In My Life, The Mamas & the Papas – Monday, Monday, Simon & Garfunkle – Scarborough Fair, The Beach Boys – Lady Lynda, Massive Attack – Teardrop, and Tori Amos - Blood Roses Just as the piano can take music originally for earlier keyboards and make it come to life in a new way on a modern instrument, the harpsichord has its own voice and adds color to the popular music of today. Meanwhile, there is a new world of chamber and solo works for harpsichord created by twentieth century and contemporary classical composers.

Take A Guided Tour Through A Rich Musical History

Even though the world of harpsichord music spans centuries, its full expressive voice and sonic potential remain unfamiliar to most people today. Each European country had its own unique style of harpsichord. Instruments differed greatly, not only in size, tunings and decorations, but also in the number of keys and keyboards. Discover the roots of this amazing instrument with recorded programs featuring music from the 1500s to the 18th century played on three different harpsichords.

This project was inspired by a love for the instrument and its music. The programs provide a history of the harpsichord in sound - combining music with spoken commentary. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, this project encompassed eight separate programs, each exploring different aspects of the instrument and its place in yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Check out the Recorded Programs Page for more detailed program descriptions and audio samples. A version with music alone - each example on a separate track - is included with each program purchase, along with a separate written script providing background information.

For additional information, check out The Historical Keyboard Society which features resource articles and descriptions of up-coming events, conferences, and competitions, as well as the Harvard University Press book: Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making, by Frank Hubbard, which provides a wealth of history and interesting details about the instrument.

For those interested, a complimentary Script & Musical Tour accompanying Programs I-VIII is available as a downloadable PDF here

An early Italian style instrument, copy of a Ridolfi (in Aron's mean-tone temperament)

A Flemish instrument copy of an Andreas Ruckers harpsichord (in Kirnberger's 3rd temperament)

A French-style Pascal Taskin copy (in a version of modern equal temperament)