Friday, November 07, 2008
Harpsichord, grand piano, spinet -- what's the difference?
As the term harpsichord actually means to refer to an entire family of similar instruments, there are a variety of forms and styles. The most famous harpsichord is known simply as the harpsichord, a large wooden instrument that looks not unlike a grand piano; in fact, this type of harpsichord was indeed the grand piano of the instrument group, used for public and high-society performances. The spinet harpsichord, yet another popular type, is a harpsichord with angled strings; the size of this harpsichord prevents an entirely horizontal positioning.
But the spinet harpsichord is not the smallest in the family; a series of small harpsichords were produced. The virginal harpsichord is a very small version tailored for women; the muselar virginal harpsichord is slightly larger than the virginal, with the strings attacked from their mid-points; and the spinet virginal harpsichord is a small harpsichord with angled strings. Additionally, an upright harpsichord called the clavicytherium was produced for a short time before it fell out of favor; this harpsichord was the true inspiration for the upright piano.