Instruments | Clavichord | Renaissance | Classical
The playing mechanism of the clavichord was quite different from that of the harpsichord family. It was a simpler lever system, working like a seesaw. As the player’s fingers landed on the key, its other end rose and struck the string from below. In sound production, the clavichord was thus similar to the dulcimer and the piano. But, unlike on the piano, performers could keep the hammer in touch with the string, changing the pressure on the key to produce an effect like vibrato on a violin. Playing more forcibly produced a louder sound, but the clavichord’s construction only really allowed a range of very quiet to slightly less quiet. Because of this, it was largely an instrument for the home, suitable for practice, composition and private performance. The repertory written for it over the past few years is surprisingly large.
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