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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 ?
That Friedrich Ficker of Zeitz advertised such an instrument in Leipzig in 1731 is discussed by Christian Ahrens in "Zur Geschichte von Clavichord, Cembalo und Hammerklavier," in Cembalo und Hammerflugel ([Herne: Der Oberstadtdirektor, 1985], 59-60); this catalogue, but not the article nor the maker, are cited by Clinkscale.
Unlike pianos, with their complicated key action and heavily tensioned strings, the clavichord is about as simple as you can imagine.
In any event, clavichord keys are simple affairs, just lengths of wood balanced on pivots.
This one's going to my parents' home here in Eugene," he says, pointing to one partially assembled clavichord on a bench.
But my first keyboard instrument ever was a clavichord which I won in 1986 at the competition in Haarlem I mentioned earlier.
I certainly play them differently because I approach these nuances of performance without the prejudices of the tradition that dominates the modern interpretation of works of the classical epoch, and on the contrary I draw on my experiences with clavichord play and the study of the works of earlier composers.
Jaroslav Tuma (1956)--organist, harpsichordist, player on the clavichord and the hammerklavier.
It was not until the end of that century that clavichords would once again be built and played.
Other papers discuss the works of individual composers for the clavichord, clavichords in a particular locale, clavichord technique and performance practices, descriptions of specific clavichords, and contemporary composition for the clavichord; there is also a fascinating paper by Owen Jander on "The Clavichord as Metaphor in Late Eighteenth-Century Portraiture.
Richard Maunder's thorough account covers harpsichord, piano, and clavichord.
Richard Troeger's contribution discusses in full detail tile splendid large five-octave clavichords, a total of thirty-four, made under Arnold Dolmetsch's direction at the Chickering piano company in Boston between 1906 and 1910.
The clavichord and its music are receiving unprecedented attention at the biennial conferences held at Magnano, Italy.