Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/702

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690
HARPSICHORD.
 

makers; London and Paris took up the tale. But all these Antwerp workmen belonged of right to the Guild of St. Luke, the artist's corporation, to which they were in the first instance introduced by the practice of ornamenting their instruments with painting and carving. In 1557 ten of the Antwerp harpsichord makers petitioned the deans and masters of the guild to be admitted without submitting masterpieces, and the chiefs of the commune consenting, in the next year they were received. The responsibility of signing their work was perhaps the foundation of the great reputation afterwards enjoyed by Antwerp for harpsichords and similar musical instruments. ('Recherches,' etc., Léon de Burbure, Brussels, 1863.)

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The earliest historical mention of the harpsichord in England occurs under the name of Claricymball, a.d. 1502. The late Dr. Rimbault ('The Pianoforte,' London 1860) collected this and other references to old keyed instruments from records of Privy Purse expenses and from contemporary poets. The house-proverbs of Leckingfield, the residence of Algernon Percy in the time of Henry VII, preserved (for the house was burnt) in a MS. in the British Museum, named it 'clarisymbalis.' For a long while after this, if the instrument existed, it was known under a general name, as 'virginalls.' It was the school of Ruckers, transferred to this country by a Fleming named Tabel, that was the real basis of harpsichord making as a distinct business in this country, separating it from organ building with which it had been, as in Flanders, often combined. Tabel's pupils, Burkhard Tschudi (anglicé Shudi) and Jacob Kirchmann (anglicé Kirkman), became famous in the last century, developing the harpsichord in the direction of power and majesty of tone to the farthest limit. The difference in length between a Ruckers and a Shudi or Kirkman harpsichord,—viz. from 6 or 7½ feet to nearly 9 feet, is in direct proportion to this increase of power. Stronger framing and thicker stringing helped in the production of their pompous, rushing-sounding instruments. Perhaps Shudi's were the longest, as he carried his later instruments down to C in the bass, while Kirkman remained at F; but the latter set up one row { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \clef bass c,4_\markup { \halign #0.25 \smaller \italic 8va. } f,_\markup { \smaller \italic 8va. } } of jacks with leather instead of quills, and with due increase in the forte combination. Shudi, in his last years (a.d. 1769), patented a Venetian Swell, an adaptation from the organ to the harpsichord [App. p.668 "correct statement as to the Venetian swell being an adaptation from the organ, by Shudi, vol. iii. p. 489b, l. 37–45"]. Kirkman added a pedal to raise a portion of the top or cover. Both used two pedals; the one for the swell, the other by an external lever apparatus to shut off the octave and one of the unison registers, leaving the player with both hands free, an invention of John Hayward's, described in Mace's 'Musick's Monument,' a.d. 1676, p. 235.

In these 18th-century harpsichords, the Flemish practice of ornamenting with painting—often the cause of an instrument being broken up when no longer efficient—was done away with; also the laudable old custom of mottoes to remind the player of the analogous brevity of life and sound, of the divine nature of the gift of music, or of dead wood reviving as living tone. But it was when the instrument went out altogether that