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Clavichord-JA Haas 007.jpg
A clavichord
Classification String

A clavichord is a musical instrument like a small keyboard. It was very popular for many years, especially in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

Sound[change | change source]

The clavichord is a very quiet instrument. It was not suitable for playing with other instruments because it was so quiet. But it sounds very beautiful in slow, expressive music. It was used as a practice instrument by harpsichord players, or by organists who wanted to practise at home instead of in a (often very cold) church. They were so small that they could be lifted up and put on a table. They could be put one on top of another so that an organist could practise music written for a two-manual organ. Sometimes they even had pedals for organists to practise this skill.

Uses[change | change source]

Many German composers like Johann Sebastian Bach wrote music for the “Clavier”. This meant any keyboard instrument: harpsichord, clavichord or organ. The player could choose which they wanted to use.

When the piano suddenly became popular – in the 1760s and 1770s – people started to forget about harpsichords and clavichords. Today a few people make harpsichords and clavichords again so that people can play Renaissance and Baroque music - the music from when the clavichord was popular.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Clavichords at Wikimedia Commons