Harpsichord Voicing, Touch Weight, and Regulation

The harpsichord action is quite simple, consisting of an upright rectangular stick called a jack, which rests on the back end of the key. Protruding horizontally from the jack is the plectrum, usually made of plastic or bird's quill. When the key is depressed, the jack rises and the plectrum plucks the string. Voicing is accomplished by shaving material from the plectrum until it plucks with the desired strength. Reducing the stiffness of the plectrum in this way also reduces the force required to pluck the string, so voicing and touch weight change at the same time, and compromises sometimes need to be made. Trying to produce a stronger tone can make the touch too stiff for comfortable play.

Regulating a harpsichord involves such things as adjusting the distance between the plectra at rest and the strings, setting the proper key depth when depressed, adjusting dampers so they stop the tone effectively but don't interfere with neighboring strings, and setting the "stagger", which is the timing of the plucks when more than one set of strings is being used. All of these contribute to the responsiveness and ease of playing the harpsichord. Regulation is generally worked on at the same time as voicing because there are many points of interdependence. For example, changes in voicing also bring about changes in the stagger.
 
Todd Loomis, RPT
(360) 631-9045
teloomis@hotmail.com



Servicing the greater Puget Sound area.

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