A harpsichord is a musical instrument, like the piano, which has a keyboard and strings.  However, unlike the piano, sounds are made my plucking its strings rather than hammering them. 

The harpsichord has a unique sound which you are hearing if you have your computer's sound turned on! 

French Harpsichord


Italian Harpsichord

Two-Manual English Harpsichord



Flemish Harpsichord

Notice the ornate paintings on the inside and outside of the harpsichord.  The earliest of the modern day harpsichords were produced by the Flemish.

Parts of a Harpsichord

Picture of The Harpsichord
Key-to-String Mechanism

Harpsichord Keyboard

Notice that the key colors are just the reverse of the modern piano.

Harpsichord Strings

The strings of a harpsichord are grouped together, by tone, in choirs.  There is a 4' (Please note: the apostrophe after the "4" means "foot.") choir and an 8' choir.  The 8' choir is the normal tones while the 4' choir is an octave higher.  What do we mean by 4' and 8'?  4' refers to a pitch from which, if sounded on an organ, middle C would be emitted from a pipe about four feet long while 8' refers to a pitch which, if sounded on an organ, middle C would be emitted from a pipe about 8 feet long.


More Information

Want to know more about harpsichords?  Then, here are some great links - some of which we've used as references for the information presented here on this page:

Tour of the Harpsichord

How A Harpsichord Works

Building A Harpsichord


Jacks and Plectrums

The music playing on this page is "Sinfonia in C minor" by J. S. Bach, our March, 2007, Composer of the Month. 

2012 Miss-Music.com  Pictures were taken from a variety of sites on the Web.  They are owned by the Copyright Holders and no infringement is intended.