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Clavichord Pieces, Vol 3 (Kalmus Edition): FranÃ§ois Couperin: ejisytoqys.tk: Books
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Here I am, an aficionado of the clavichord, an instrument that has suffered much at the hands of children they break strings , composers few have specifically designated this keyboard as the intended instrument , and recording engineers who make heroic efforts to make it sound ancient, broken, out of tune and barely audible , and here I find a book of compositions specifically written for the clavichord!
Leaving aside my doubts, since Couperin was a renowned harpsichordist, I ordered the volume. Sure enough, the cover says "Clavichord pieces". Inside, many of the pieces were unknown to me, a good sign, and I found dynamic markings on the scores, which could not be rendered on a harpsichord, for the simple reason that harpsichords are not, as we say these days, "velocity-sensitive".
Banging the keys on a harpsichord will add a thumpy character to notes that pianists apparently enjoy, and a true fortissimo will impart to the case a cavernous knocking while the jacks fly against the jack-rail in a most entertaining and percussive dance of death, while the instrument sways precariously on its stand.
Clavichord Pieces, Volume 3
But the so-called notes will not for a moment become any the louder for it. Watching a pianist play a harpsichord is a little like watching a gorilla caress a chihuahua. You try not to grit your teeth, you look away now and then, and smile. The sense of dynamics on a harpsichord is all in the timing and the release. So the various crescendo and pp to ff markings must indicate that the music is scored for a pianoforte or a clavichord.
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Alone among keyboard instruments, however, it is capable of all manner of expression, including vibrato and pitch bends, as the key directly pushes the little brass tangents against the strings, so that additional "aftertouch" pressure will raise a note's pitch by stretching the strings. This is what children invariably discover as a good way to flex the instrument out of tune before the strings start to snap, the keys break, and the repair bill rises. I started looking for the bebung vibrato symbol in the score, usually a dot under or over a note.
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