the harpsichord post

Clementine and I had a nice talk about harpsichords this afternoon. We were listening to a piece of music on the radio and she said that it sounded like a piano. I told her that I thought that it was a harpsichord and then she started in with the interrogation – about 20 questions that I couldn’t answer. So, after dinner, we sat down in front of the computer and started researching the history of harpsichords. And, in the process, we found a very cool site run by someone at the University of Michigan that includes all kinds of audio recordings of various models of harpsichords and harpsichord-related instruments being played. Our favorite as of bedtime, was the Lautenwerk, which is a harpsichord with gut strings.

[As long as we’re on the subject, I thought that you might be interested to know that 3 people think The Addams Family jumped the shark when they sold Lurch’s harpsichord… Man, could he ever play that thing.]

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  1. Dr. Fred
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I love you with all of my heart (that hasn’t been eaten away by cancer), but you and your daughter wouldn’t know know a good harpsichord if it was crushing the life out of you. (Many good men and women died that way in the 1600’s.) The Lautenwerk is a piece of garbage with keys. Flemish. That’s where it’s at.

  2. It's Skinner Again
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    And yet Bach loved the Lautenwerk: he owned two, one built to his specifications. And some of his lute works seem to have actually been written for the Lautenwerk.

    And Mark — if you like harpsichord, listen to Artie Shaw’s Gramercy 5. Johnny Guarneri!

    And did I ever tell you I have the same birthday as Charles Addams?

  3. Posted September 28, 2007 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    (chuckles indulgently) Bach ordered two Lautenwerks, sure, absolutely………..FOR HIS DOG! Who could only bang out “Where Sheep May Safely Graze…” on a good day.

    Bach knew very well that you could never get the full, heavy, dark, honeyed tone you can *only* get from a Flemish harpsichord (especially one built by the revered Ruckers family–the Strad of harpsichords).

    Please, heed Dr. Fred, before you go to Harpischords-R-Us.

  4. Posted September 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    (Mr. It’s Skinner Again, may I ask, didn’t you ever wonder why Bach wrote his Harpsichord Concerto no. 5 in Arf Minor?)

  5. egpenet
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    My dream for many years was to someday own a John Chalis Mozart-Hayden 2-manual Pianoforte … which I played in the Chalis studio sometime in the early 60s in Detroit. All of the Chalis instruments (Clavicords to harpsichords were fabulous).

  6. It's Skinner Again
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Egpenet — Article on John Challis:,9171,803099,00.html

    Ypsidixit — I’m not sure why you have that dog hair up your nose. Well, here’s a picture of the notorious cat keyboard for you:

    Cheers, etc…

  7. egpenet
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Skinner … again.

  8. Posted September 28, 2007 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    God bless us all. It’s a beautiful fall night in Ypsilanti.

  9. mark
    Posted September 30, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    No. You never told me that you born on the birthday of Charles Addams.

    January 7, 1912.

    That would make you about 95, right?

    And thanks for the cat piano link. I’ll have to try to incorporate that into a post sometime.

  10. It's Skinner Again
    Posted October 1, 2007 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Mark — So it would seem. Time flies when you’re having fun.

  11. Steve
    Posted October 2, 2007 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Skinner Day falls on a Monday this year. I love it when it makes a 3 day weekend.

  12. W Aigla
    Posted March 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Fucking harpsichords rock, mother fuckers!

  13. Ted
    Posted March 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    From ball shaving to harpsichords. What a long strange trip it’s been.

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