Welcome back everyone!
When you return to Dolce Musica this year, you will find a new addition to the studio. This summer we were given the beautiful gift of a clavichord. We have decided to call him Louis.
Louis was a hand-built clavichord made in London, England, from the builder Johannes Morley. Louis is a very fragile musical instrument, so we will not be using it in lessons, but I will certainly play something for you all so you can hear what it sounds like.
A clavichord is a European keyboard instrument used primarily during the Baroque era. Its main use was for practice in the home, as it was not loud enough for larger performances. Bach wrote many of his keyboard compositions on a clavichord, even though they would have been performed in public on a much larger harpsichord.
The clavichord produces sound by striking brass or iron strings with small metal blades called tangents. Vibrations are transmitted through the bridge(s) to the soundboard.
The name comes from the Latin clavis, meaning “key” and chorda, meaning “string, especially of a musical instrument”.
Modern musicians have created a resurgence of interest in the instrument by inventing what is known as the clavinet, which is essentially an electric clavichord which uses a magnetic pickup to provide a signal for amplification. Stevie Wonder, Björk, Tori Arnos, and Rick Wakeman have all used this instrument in recordings.
The traditional instrument is also still in common use. While not used in performance, recordings may easily be found. Christopher Hogwood has several recordings of clavichord pieces - The Secret Bach, The Secret Handel, The Secret Mozart. Other recordings by performers such as Derek Adlam, Miklos Spanyi, and Victoria’s own Colin Tilney. Have a listen to the YouTube video posted here to get an idea of its sound. Several original clavichords are shown in this short video.
Coming to us from England, we felt it appropriate to name Louis after the newly born future King of England, George Alexander Louis.