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(klăv`ĭkôrd), keyboard musical instrument invented in the Middle Ages. It consists of a small rectangular wooden box, placed upon a table or on legs, containing a sounding board and a set of strings. Keys cause the strings to be struck with small wedges of metal called tangents, which not only set the string into vibration but determine its vibrating length by means of a sort of fretting. Thus one string suffices for about four keys. Early in the 18th cent., clavichords were built with a string for each key; such instruments were more expensive and harder to tune, but gradually supplanted the older ones. The clavichord was musically important from the 16th until the end of the 18th cent. when the pianoforte replaced it. The most notable composer to write expressly for it was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.


See P. James, Early Keyboard Instruments (1930); D. Matthews, ed., Keyboard Music (1972).



a keyboard stringed percussion instrument. The earliest recorded mention of the clavichord was in the 15th century, and the oldest pictures date from the 16th century. The clavichord was used throughout Europe. The case is usually a four-cornered oblong box; the keyboard takes up one of the long sides, and the strings, all of equal length, are stretched horizontally. Tangents, fastened to small blades of brass, are fixed to the ends of the keys and strike the strings from below. Depending on where the string is struck, it produces tones of varying pitch.

The old clavichord was diatonic, with a compass of three to 3½ octaves. Clavichords with a chromatic structure appeared in the 16th century. In the 18th century the instrument’s range reached five octaves. Its lack of volume made the clavichord more a domestic than a concert instrument. In the early 19th century it was supplanted by the pianoforte.


a keyboard instrument consisting of a number of thin wire strings struck from below by brass tangents. The instrument is noted for its delicate tones, since the tangents do not rebound from the string until the key is released
References in periodicals archive ?
Supported by the British Clavichord Society, the event offers anyone who plays or composes for the keyboard the opportunity to learn how to play the most expressive of keyboard instruments.
The range of skills corresponded to the range of devices made, including automata (essay VIII), from the Renaissance revival of Greek and Roman mechanism, through Ramelli's wonderful devices, including hydraulically operated singing birds, Bullmann's music-making androids, all the way to Vaucanson's musicians and his excreting duck, and the writing, sketching, and clavichord playing automata of Jacquet-Droz, father and son.
Awarded France's Prix des Libraires in 1995, the novel is set in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century and traces the life story of Francis Tregian, Catholic, gentleman, musician, and arguably a master of the clavichord.
A prodigious talent and the favorite pupil of Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music (RCM), he made his initial mark with large-scale chamber and concert works, and throughout his career produced a steady stream of keyboard music for piano and clavichord (the latter an outgrowth of his interest in early English music).
Three Bach transcriptions showed his ability for precision and clarity without resorting to prissy attempts at making a Steinway sound like a clavichord.
As is written in the introductory word, the clavichord is for music connoisseurs an ideal keyboard instrument allowing for the most effective contact of the finger with the string.
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Most of Bach's keyboard output is 'instrument neutral', meaning that it can be played on any available type of keyboard instrument: harpsichord, clavichord, fortepiano, or organ; but some pieces call for specific instruments either explicitly (the organ sonatas of Wq 70, or the "Bogenclavier" sonata, Wq 65/48) or implicitly (pieces that call for Bebung and other clavichord-specific techniques).
The entire apartment is festooned with relics from his early life such as the violin that Mozart used to play when he was a child, the time of baby Mozart, his concert violin, his clavichord, locks of hair, rings, ornately decorated buttons, portraits, letters and other memorabilia of his family.
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Using instruments like the harp, celeste and clavichord she crafts a sound that could be magical.