Historical Harpsichord Technique
Developing La douceur du toucher
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Indiana University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Download PDF (75.5 KB)
There are several people I wish to thank for helping to make the completion of this book possible: my former professors at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music—Elisabeth Wright, Dr. David Lasocki, Stanley Ritchie, Nigel North, and Michael McCraw; the editorial staff at Indiana University Press—Jane Behnken, Sarah Wyatt Swanson, Elaine Durham Otto, June...
Introduction: La douceur du toucher
Download PDF (96.5 KB)
In his Klavierschule (1789), Daniel Gottlob Türk remarks, “That a beautiful tone is a requisite for good execution I can presume as an established fact. It is also known from experience that of two players, one is able to produce a far more beautiful tone on the same instrument than the other.” He then asks, “What is a beautiful tone?” Early writers did not consider that everyone...
1. Preparing to Play
Download PDF (380.0 KB)
Although the majority of keyboardists today begin their studies on the piano and later specialize in organ, harpsichord, or clavichord, there is a growing population of students who choose harpsichord from the start. We read from at least three early sources that the best time to begin is before the age of ten. François Couperin recommends: “The appropriate age for children to begin...
2. Touching the Instrument
Download PDF (391.0 KB)
As in most disciplines of the performing arts, physical and mental preparedness is beneficial to the process of learning pieces and perfecting one’s craft. For harpsichordists, this preparation includes exercising the hands both away from and at the keyboard. We recall Couperin’s suggestion to pull the fingers and stretch the hands before touching the keys. Players can do this alone or...
Download PDF (347.4 KB)
Articulation is a cornerstone of many standard courses about Baroque performance practice. It is often taught in conjunction with the principles of rhetoric, phrasing, rhythm, and overall expression, with special emphasis on how these topics are based on historical sources. Until my first official harpsichord lesson in the early 1990s, I had never heard “articulation” mentioned...
Download PDF (327.2 KB)
Several keyboard sources spanning the late Renaissance through the late Baroque promote comfortable fingering patterns and flawless technique requiring minimal motion. The motivation behind such choices is the same—to communicate the expressiveness of the music. In his Arte de tañer fantasia, after several pages devoted to fingering scale passages, Sancta Maria adds this...
Download PDF (72.1 KB)
To summarize, the main points needed to achieve a good technique include but are not limited to (1) the use of an excellent instrument, (2) good musical training, (3) an upright and comfortable posture, (4) frequent practice, (5) relaxation, (6) supple fingers with independent and even strength, and (7) finger connection to the quill against the string. The following tools are needed in...
Appendix: Brief Biographical Notes on People Mentioned in the Text
Download PDF (156.2 KB)
Download PDF (315.9 KB)
Download PDF (157.6 KB)
Download PDF (202.8 KB)
Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 13 b&w illus., 34 music exx.
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Publications of the Early Music Institute