Italian Harpsichords

Italian harpsichords stand in sharp contrast to the late French instruments. Much of this difference can be attributed to the period during which they were built. The harpsichord originated in Italy during the 15th century, and this tradition was maintained in Italy while builders in other countries were introducing fresh ideas which were establishing regional styles and keeping pace with the changing tastes in composition. The Italian harpsichord typically had an inner/outer style of construction. The instrument itself had a very light case with no lid and was usually made of cedar. It would fit into a stronger outer case, which would have had a lid attached to it. The more sprightly sounding instruments were rather short, about 6’ long, without a lot of fundamental in the tone. The larger harpsichords were about 8’ long and were quite a bit rounder in their sound than the shorter ones. Both styles had a short scale, and the strings may well have been brass.

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