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Title: Italian Harpsichord-Building in the 16th and 17th Centuries
Author: Shortridge, John D.
Language: English
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  _Italian Harpsichord-Building
  in the
  16th and 17th Centuries_

  by John D. Shortridge



[Illustration: Figure 1.--OUTER CASE OF ALBANA HARPSICHORD.]

Italian Harpsichord-Building in the 16th and 17th Centuries

By John D. Shortridge

_The making of harpsichords flourished in Italy throughout the 16th and
17th centuries. The Italian instruments were of simpler construction
than those built by the North Europeans, and they lacked the familiar
second manual and array of stops._

_In this paper, typical examples of Italian harpsichords from the Hugo
Worch Collection in the United States National Museum are described in
detail and illustrated. Also, the author offers an explanation for
certain puzzling variations in keyboard ranges and vibrating lengths of
strings of the Italian harpsichords._

THE AUTHOR: _John D. Shortridge is associate curator of cultural history
in the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution._

Perhaps the modern tendency to idealize progress has been responsible
for the neglect of Italian harpsichords and virginals during the present
day revival of interest in old musical instruments. Whatever laudable
traits the Italian builders may have had, they cannot be considered to
have been progressive. Their instruments of the mid-16th century hardly
can be distinguished from those made around 1700. During this 150 years
the pioneering Flemish makers added the four-foot register, a second
keyboard, and lute and buff stops to their instruments. However, the
very fact that the Italian builders were unwilling to change their
models suggests that their instruments were good enough to demand no
further improvements. Anyone who has heard a properly restored Italian
harpsichord or an accurately made reproduction will agree that the tone
of such instruments is of exceptional beauty.

This paper consists of a description of the structural features of two
typical Italian instruments and a general discussion of the stringing
and tuning of Italian harpsichords and virginals that is based on
certain measurements of 33 instruments housed in various museums in the
United States. To the curators and other staff members of these
institutions I express my sincere gratitude for making it possible for
me to measure valuable instruments entrusted to their care or for
supplying similar information by mail.

The first type of instrument described below usually has been designated
in modern books about musical instruments and in catalogs of instrument
collections as a spinet, the term virginal being applied to the
rectangular instruments having the keyboard along the long side. Since
both of these types have basically the same arrangement of keyboard,
wrest plank, hitch pins, strings and jacks, and since both types were
known as virginals in 17th-century England, it is logical to reserve the
term spinet for another kind of instrument, namely the one with the
wrest plank and tuning pins in front over the keyboard, and with the
strings stretched diagonally. Such instruments were popular in England
in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and were known in English as
spinets during the period of their popularity. By using the term
polygonal virginal we can distinguish, when necessary, the five-sided
Italian model from the rectangular instruments usually produced in
northern Europe. Some rectangular virginals were made in Italy; one
Flemish polygonal virginal, made by the elder Hans Ruckers in 1591,
survives. Long instruments, resembling the grand piano in shape, are
called harpsichords. Of course it is understood that both types of
virginals as well as the spinet and the harpsichord were keyed
chordophones employing the plucking action of jacks and plectra.

[Illustration: Figure 2.--POLYGONAL VIRGINAL IN OUTER CASE.]

Throughout this paper the different octaves are indicated according to
the following system:

[Illustration: Music]


The Typical Italian Polygonal Virginal

To give a clear idea of the construction of the Italian polygonal
virginal, a detailed description of one particular example is presented
here. This virginal is included in the Hugo Worch collection at the U.S.
National Museum. The maker's name is not known, but the instrument is
believed to have been built around 1600.

As is true of the great majority of Italian virginals and harpsichords
of the 16th and 17th centuries, the instrument proper is removable from
its outer case. The outer case (fig. 2), of sturdier construction than
the virginal which it was designed to protect, is made of wood about
1/2" thick and is decorated with paintings of female figures and
garlands. The original legs are missing.

Our main interest is in the virginal proper (fig. 3), the construction
of which is comparable in some ways to that of the violin. The very thin
sides of the virginal are held together at the corners by blocks, and
the soundboard is supported by a lining.

The cross section drawing (fig. 4) shows the 9/16" thick bottom and the
sides which are 1/8" thick. The lining, 1/2" by 1-1/3", runs around four
sides of the instrument, the wrest plank replacing it on the fifth side.
The soundboard thickness, measured inside the holes through which the
jacks pass, varies from 1/16" in the bass to 1/8" in the treble. The
manner in which variations in thickness are distributed over the entire
soundboard has not been determined. The cross section drawing also shows
the beautifully executed mouldings that make the sides appear to be
thicker than they really are.

The positions of the knee braces, the shape of which can be seen in
figure 4, are shown along either side of the keyboard in figure 5. These
braces are 3/4" thick. The positions of the blocks, small pieces with
the grain running perpendicular to the bottom, and the wrest plank,
which is 1-1/4" thick, are also shown. The two ribs are attached to the
underside of the soundboard in the positions indicated. The jack guide,
built up of separate pieces held together by long strips down either
side, is glued to the underside of the soundboard and extends as far as
the lining in the treble but stops a little short of it in the bass
(fig. 5). The jack guide is 15/16" thick.

The layout of the soundboard in figure 6 gives the relative positions of
the bridges, tuning pins, hitch pins, strings, jacks, and jack rail.
There is, of course, one jack and one string per key. The jacks
presently in this virginal, not being original, will not be described.
Typical Italian jacks will be described later. The bridges are 5/16"
wide and vary in height from 7/16" in the bass to 3/8" in the treble. A
cross section of one of the bridges appears in figure 4. The jack rail,
also shown in figure 4, extends over the jacks 1-1/8" above the
soundboard. It serves not only to prevent the jacks from flying out
during play but also to terminate the downward fall of the fronts of the
keys. The keys do not drop far enough to touch the key frame, but
instead are stopped by the jacks striking the jack rail.

[Illustration: Figure 4.--CROSS SECTION OF POLYGONAL VIRGINAL. A, side;
B, bottom; C, knee; D, liner; E, soundboard; F, rib; G, bridge; H
string; I, jack rail. Scale, 1:2.]

The keyboard has an apparent compass of four octaves and one note from
_E_ to _f´´´_. Short octave tuning would have extended the compass down
a major third to _C_ in the bass, with the _E_ key sounding _C_, the
_F#_ key sounding _D_, the _G#_ key sounding _E_, and the remaining keys
sounding their proper pitches. These three keys will hereafter be
referred to as _C/E_, _D/F#_ and _E/G#_.

The lowest eight keys have small wire eyes attached to their undersides
near the front. A corresponding slot is cut through the inner and outer
cases, allowing the eyes to be connected to a short pedal keyboard which
has not survived.

The keys themselves vary in length from 10" in the bass to 18-1/2" in
the treble; they are mounted on a trapezoidal key frame which is
removable from the instrument. The balance rail and balance rail pins
are on a diagonal, resulting in a gradual but noticeable change in the
touch from one end of the keyboard to the other. The rack, 1/2" thick
and 1-3/4" high, is fastened along the back of the key frame and has one
vertical saw cut for each key. Projecting from the back of each key is a
small sliver of wood which rides in its proper saw cut and serves to
guide the key. The natural keys are veneered with boxwood and have
arcaded boxwood fronts. The sharps are small blocks of hardwood stained

The sides, soundboard, ribs, jacks, guide, jackrail, and mouldings are
made of cypress, the wrest plank and bridges are of walnut, and the
framework, bottom, keys, and key frame are of pine.

The photographs (figs. 2, 3) show the decorative use of ivory studs. On
the soundboard appears the Latin inscription _Vita brevis, ars longa_. A
laminated parchment rose, 3-3/16" in diameter, is placed in the
soundboard in the position indicated in figure 6. A typical example of
this decorative device is shown in figure 12.

The above-described virginal is typical of Italian practice. Other
examples studied generally have differed from it only in small details,
except in the case of compass and vibrating lengths of strings. These
factors will be discussed in detail in a following section.

[Illustration: Figure 5.--INTERIOR OF POLYGONAL VIRGINAL. A, lining; B,
wrest plank; C, rib; D, jack guide; E, knee; F, rack. Broken lines
indicate positions of corner blocks and brace under wrest plank. Scale,

Scale, 1:8.]


bottom; B, knee; C, lining; D, soundboard. Scale, 1:2.]

The Typical Italian Harpsichord

The instrument chosen to illustrate the stylistic features of the
Italian harpsichord is also in the collection of the U.S. National
Museum. This harpsichord, purchased for the Museum in 1892 by Dr. G.
Brown Goode, was made in 1665 by Giacomo Ridolfi, who claimed Girolamo
Zenti as his teacher. The inscription on the nameboard reads "Jacobus
Rodolphus Hieronymi de Zentis Discipulus MDCLXV Facieba."

Like the virginal described above, this harpsichord is separable from
its outer case. The outer case rests on a separate stand consisting of
three gilt cupids and a floral garland. Since the painted decoration of
this case is not original, another outer case, belonging to a
harpsichord made by Horatius Albana in 1633, was selected for the
illustration (fig. 1).

Two unison strings per key and two registers of jacks are provided. The
apparent compass of the keyboard is from _C/E_ to _c´´´_. The remains of
pedal connections can be seen on the lowest eight keys.

The sides of the harpsichord are 5/32" thick; the bottom is 9/16" thick.
The sides and lining are supported by knees that do not extend clear
across the bottom of the instrument as they do in the virginal.

The knees are small triangular pieces, as shown in figure 8. Since the
added tension of the second set of strings demands a somewhat more
substantial framework than that employed in the virginal, a series of
braces are attached to the floor. These are connected to the lining by
several diagonal braces (fig. 9). This produces a remarkably strong but
very light structure. The keys (not shown) are of more constant length
than those of the virginal; therefore, the touch is much more uniform.

[Illustration: Figure 9.--FRAMEWORK OF HARPSICHORD. A, wrest plank; B,
belly rail; C, rib; D, bottom brace; E, diagonal brace; F, knee; G,
lining. Scale, 1:8.]

[Illustration: Figure 10.--LAYOUT OF HARPSICHORD SOUNDBOARD. Scale,

The wrest plank is supported by two end blocks, against which the
partition behind the action (called the belly rail) is also placed. The
soundboard is glued to the top of the belly rail. The wrest plank is
veneered with cypress, giving the appearance that the soundboard extends
over it. The jack guides also rest on the end blocks in the space
between the wrest plank and the belly rail. Figures 8 and 11 clarify the
arrangement of these structural features.

Figure 10 shows the layout of ribs, bridges, and strings on the
soundboard. The soundboard is about 1/8" thick. The bridge on the wrest
plank tapers in height from 3/8" in the treble to 7/16" in the bass and
in width from 5/16" to 7/16". The soundboard bridge measures about 3/8"
by 1/4" and has virtually no taper. The soundboard does not have a rose,
although that decorative device is fairly common on Italian

The jack guides are built up of spacer blocks held together by thin
strips along the sides. There is now no provision for moving the guides,
although plugged-up holes visible in the right end of each guide suggest
that they originally could be disengaged. In Italian harpsichords
generally, the jack guides were controlled by knobs projecting through
the sides of the case. Sometimes these harpsichords had levers pivoted
on the wrest plank and attached to the guides. The Ridolfi case has not
been patched and there are no holes in the wrest plank where levers
could have been attached; so, the guides probably were not intended to
be movable.

The jacks are simple slips of walnut measuring about 3/16" by 7/16" by
3-1/8". The arrangement of the tongue, spring, plectrum, and damper are
shown in figure 11. The dampers are small pieces of buckskin held in
slots at the tops of the jacks. The plectra, perhaps not original, are
of leather. Of course, there are no adjusting screws or capstans of any

The direction in which the plectra of each row of jacks should be
pointing is not known. Two clavicytheria having two registers of strings
and a single row of double tongue jacks have been examined by the
author. Each of these jacks has two plectra, one pointing to the right
and one to the left. Turning these jacks around does not alter the order
of direction. The plectra nearest the keyboard points the same way
whether the jack is upside down or not. In the clavicytherium at the
Smithsonian Institution the plectra nearest the keyboard points to the
player's left. In a clavicytherium at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts the
opposite is true. Probably both arrangements were used in harpsichords

String Lengths and Pitch Standards

The vibrating lengths of the strings of the polygonal virginal and of
the Ridolfi harpsichord can be roughly determined from the drawings. For
purposes of comparison, a tabulation of the vibrating lengths (in
inches) of the _C_ strings on both instruments follows:

                    _Polygonal    _Harpsichord_
  c´´´                 6-5/8          5-1/16
  c´´ (pitch C)       12-15/16       10
  c´ (middle C)       25-9/16        20-1/2
  c                   43-5/16        42-1/16
  C/E                 50-5/6         61-1/4

The lengths shown for the harpsichord represent the shorter of the two
strings with which each key is provided.

In order to produce a uniform tone color throughout the compass of a
stringed instrument, it is necessary, among other things, to have the
tension of all the strings reasonably uniform. In the treble this is
accomplished by varying the string lengths. Since the length of a
vibrating string is inversely proportional to its frequency, each string
is made about half as long as the string an octave below, two thirds as
long as the string a fifth below, etc. This principle cannot be carried
all the way into the bass since the lowest strings would be
inconveniently long, so somewhere below middle _C_ the strings are
gradually shortened and the diameters of the wires are increased in

As the above comparison shows, the string lengths are approximately
doubled at each descending octave down to _c´_ on the virginal and _c_
on the harpsichord. The shape of the case allows the harpsichord to have
longer bass strings than the virginal; between _c´_ and _c_ the string
length is doubled in the harpsichord. However, in the virginal the _c_
string is considerably less than twice as long as the string an octave
above. In fact, the bass strings of the virginal are shortened to such
an extent that the lowest string of the harpsichord is much longer than
the lowest string of the virginal, although in the treble the virginal
has longer strings than the harpsichord.

If the length of one treble string of an instrument of this sort is
known, the lengths of all but the bass strings can be readily inferred;
we can approximately describe the lengths of two-thirds to three-fourths
of the strings of either of the above instruments by giving the length
of one string. It has become customary to use _c´´_ for this purpose,
and to refer to it in such cases as pitch _C_.

In examining a number of Italian harpsichords and virginals dating from
1540 to 1694, lengths for pitch _C_ ranging from 8" to 13-3/4" have been
found. This seems to be a great discrepancy for instruments that are
otherwise so standardized. Since a uniform standard of pitch did not yet
exist in the 16th and 17th centuries, we would expect the string lengths
employed to be varied somewhat in order to accommodate the instruments
to higher or lower tunings. Also, a preference for the sound of thinner,
longer wires or shorter, thicker ones may have caused some builders to
increase or decrease the string lengths on their instruments in
proportion to the string diameters chosen. We have no precise evidence
concerning the original wire gauges of the strings of Italian
harpsichords and virginals. Although the variety of pitch _C_ lengths
encountered on the instruments studied can partially be accounted for by
these two factors, a third and more important cause existed.

Among the 33 instruments about which information has been secured, a
correlation is discernible between the apparent manual compass and the
pitch _C_ string lengths. Sixteen of the instruments ascend to _f´´´_.
For these, the length of the pitch _C_ string varies from 10-1/4" to
13-3/4". The remaining instruments, with either _a´´_ or _c´´´_ as the
highest notes, have pitch _C_ strings ranging from 8" to 11-3/8" in
length. If the average tension and wire diameter of the two groups are
assumed to have been about equal, the difference in string lengths would
suggest a corresponding difference in pitch, the instruments having the
compass extended to _f´´´_ sounding somewhat lower than the others.

[Illustration: Figure 11.--ACTION OF HARPSICHORD. A, bottom; B, belly
rail; C, soundboard; D, wrest plank; E, key frame; F, rack; G, key; H,
jack; I, jack rail. Scale, 1:2.]

There is some historical evidence that this actually was the case. In
his _Theatrum Instrumentorum_ Michael Praetorius[1] pictures a polygonal
virginal, which appears to be very much like the many Italian examples
that survive today, and a rectangular virginal that seems to be Flemish.
He specifies that both are _so recht Chor-Thon_ (at regular choir
pitch). Praetorius also shows a harpsichord[2] that looks like a
typical Italian instrument except for the presence of a set of strings
tuned an octave above unison pitch, a rare feature on Italian
harpsichords. This harpsichord is described as _so eine Quart tieffer
alss Chor-Thon_ (a fourth lower than choir pitch), clearly indicating
that single manual keyboard instruments a fourth apart in pitch were in
existence. Since no reason is given for the harpsichord being tuned a
fourth lower than the two virginals, we may assume that the author
considered the matter commonplace enough as to demand no further
elaboration and that instruments a fourth apart in pitch were not rare.

Praetorius does not state that the harpsichord in his illustration was
tuned to a low pitch standard, which was actually used for certain
purposes or in particular localities. He discussed the numerous pitches
in use before and during his time, but the only one that he mentioned as
being a fourth below choir pitch he considered obsolete and suitable
only for plainsong. If the harpsichord was not intended to be tuned to
this standard and used for this purpose, it must have been tuned to
choir pitch and treated as a transposing instrument.

Querinus van Blankenburg,[3] writing in 1739, states:

     At that time [the beginning of the 17th century], men had so little
     experience in transposition that in order to be able to transpose a
     piece a fourth downwards they made a special second keyboard in the
     harpsichord for this purpose. This seems incredible, but the very
     remarkable proof is the fact that the famous Ruckers from the
     beginning of the last century for a period of more than thirty
     years made harpsichords only in this way.[4]

That the second manual of the two-manual harpsichord originated as a
device for transposition is well known. In an article titled
"Transposing Keyboards on Extant Flemish Harpsichords," Sibyl Marcuse[5]
discusses surviving examples that show how the second keyboard was
arranged. The upper keyboard was the principal one, with the lower
keyboard sounding a fourth below. The strings acted upon by a _c_ key on
the upper manual were sounded by an _f_ key on the lower; so, in
changing from the upper manual to the lower, the player would have to
move his hands to the left the distance of a perfect fourth in order to
strike the same keys, thus producing the downward transposition. The
compass of the upper manual was _E/C_ to _c´´´_. Since the lower
keyboard was shifted to the left, space was provided for five additional
keys at its treble end. The apparent treble range of the lower keyboard
was therefore extended to _f´´´_, although the lower _f´´´_ and upper
_c´´´_ keys worked on the same strings and produced the same pitch. Room
was also made for five extra bass keys at the lower end of the upper
manual. However, since short octave tuning was employed and it was
desirable to be able to use the same fingering in the bass on both
manuals, the tails of the _C/E_, _D/F#_ and _E/G#_ keys of the upper
manual had to be bent to the left in order to work on the strings played
by the _F_, _G_, and _A_ keys respectively of the lower manual. The
vacant space to the left of the upper manual _C/E_ was filled by a block
of wood. Hence the five extra bass strings not used by the upper manual
were those played by the _C/E_, _D/F#_, _E/G#_, _B_, and _c#_ keys of
the lower keyboard.

Of the 16 Italian harpsichords and virginals studied that ascend in the
treble to _f´´´_, 13 range to _C/E_ in the bass, thus having exactly the
same compass as the lower (transposing) keyboard of the Flemish
two-manual instruments. Twelve of the 14 Italian examples having _c´´´_
as the highest key stop on _C/E_ in the bass and are identical in
apparent compass to the Ruckers upper manual.

The correlation of compass and string length of the Italian instruments,
the statements of Praetorius, and the similarity of the Italian keyboard
ranges to those of the Ruckers transposing harpsichords have been
considered. A plausible conclusion is that the Italian instruments
extending to _f´´´_ were transposing instruments sounding a perfect
fourth lower than the prevailing pitch standard. Adopting the
terminology used for orchestral wind instruments, these could be
referred to as harpsichords in _G_.

The evidence of the correlation between string length and compass
becomes much more convincing if we assume that the Italian builders
abandoned the practice of making transposing harpsichords about the same
time that the Ruckers family stopped employing the transposing lower
manual. In the quotation previously given, Querinus van Blankenburg
tells us that the Ruckers did not make transposing instruments later
than the 1630's. Of the 10 dated Italian instruments with the keyboard
extended to _f´´´_, only three were made after the third decade of the
17th century. Each of these has a shorter pitch _C_ string than any of
the seven earlier instruments. These three harpsichords, dated 1654,
1658, and 1666, are accordingly considered nontransposing instruments,
with the extra treble keys representing an actual extension of the
upward range. The six undated instruments with _f´´´_ in the treble are
classified as transposing instruments because of their pitch _C_ lengths
and are accordingly believed to have been made before about 1635.

[Illustration: Figure 12.--TYPICAL DECORATIVE DEVICE, known as rose,
that appeared in soundboards of virginals and harpsichords.]

The 33 instruments on which this study is based are classified in the
list on page 107. They are grouped according to whether the highest key
is _f´´´_ or _c´´´_, with the exceptions of the three harpsichords
mentioned in the preceding paragraph and three instruments that go only
to _a´´_. That the three instruments ending on _a´´_ belong with the
nontransposing group is indicated by their string lengths.

The listing gives additional information about each example. String
lengths of instruments having two registers are for the shorter of the
two pitch _C_ strings.

Information has been secured on two Italian virginals which were not
included in the tabulation. Their measurements are completely at
variance with the pattern consistently set by the other 33 examples
studied. One, made by Giovanni Domenico in 1556, is in the Skinner
collection; it has a pitch _C_ string 14-1/16" in length and an apparent
compass of _C/E_ to _c´´´_. The other, with the same apparent compass
and a 7-1/2" pitch _C_ string, is at Yale University. Whether these
instruments are exceptional in terms of the pitch to which they were
tuned, the tension which was applied to the strings, or the thickness
and weight of the strings themselves, has not been determined.

The average of the pitch _C_ lengths of the transposing instruments in
the list is 12.78"; that of the nontransposing group is 10.45". This
suggests a separation between the two groups of about a major third
since the first average is roughly 5/4 of the second. However, the fact
that the separation of the two averages is not great enough to
positively indicate a perfect fourth--the first average would have to
be 4/3 of the second to do so--does not disprove the theory of
transposition by a fourth. In the first place, a considerable variety of
pitches is no doubt represented in both groups since a universal pitch
standard did not exist in the 16th and 17th centuries. Also, a margin of
error of only a semitone is as good as could be expected considering the
small number of examples on which the averages are based.

A further possible justification for the relationship of the two
averages is found in Praetorius' discussion of the pitch standards with
which he was familiar.[6] He states that choir pitch was a major second
lower than chamber pitch and that _tertiam minorem_ was a minor third
lower than chamber pitch. Praetorius says of _tertiam minorem_:[7]

     But in Italy and in various Catholic choirs in Germany, the said
     lower pitch is much in use. For some Italians, not unjustly, take
     no pleasure in high singing, and maintain it is not beautiful, and
     the words cannot be properly understood, and it sounds like
     crowing, yelling, singing at the top of one's voice....

Possibly some of the nontransposing instruments were tuned to choir
pitch and others to _tertiam minorem_, while the transposing instruments
were set a fourth lower than choir pitch.

Three of the instruments listed are ottavinas, small instruments tuned
an octave higher than usual. Ottavinas correspond to a four-foot
register. Mersenne[8] mentions that they existed in two sizes, one a
fifth above the usual pitch and the other an octave above. The three
ottavinas included in the table are considered to be of the size
sounding an octave above the usual pitch because they have _C/E_ to
_c´´´_ ranges and pitch _C_ string lengths about half the average length
of the other instruments in the nontransposing group. Although no
examples were found for inclusion in this study, it is probable that
some ottavinas a fifth above the usual pitch--and therefore an octave
higher than the transposing instruments in our listing--survive. Such
instruments would be expected to have apparent ranges of _C/E_ to _f´´´_
and pitch _C_ strings between 5-3/4" and 6-3/4" in length.



A.: _Date_
B.: _Pitch C length_ (_in inches_)
C.: _Apparent compass_
D.: _Type_
E.: _Registers_
F.: _Maker_
G.: _Present location_

 A.    B.         C.           D.           E.      F.            G.


1540  11-11/16   C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Vi ... ies   Metropolitan
                            virginal                          Museum of
1569  13-1/4     C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Annibale     Juilliard
                            virginal             Rossi        School
                                                              of Music
1602  13-1/4     C/E-f´´´   Rectangular   8´     Ioannes      Smithsonian
                            virginal             Baptista     Institution
1610  13-1/2     C/E-f´´´´  Polygonal     8´     Pasquino     Harding
                            virginal             Querci       Museum,
1613  11-1/2     C/E-f´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Pasquino     Smithsonian
                                                  Querci       Institution
1617  13-3/4     C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Giovanni     Yale
                            virginal             Battista     University,
                                                  Boni        New Haven,
1620  13-9/16    C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Francesco    Rhode Island
                            virginal             Poggio       School of
      11-15/16   C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Anonymous    Skinner
                            virginal                          Collection,
      12-15/16   C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Anonymous    Smithsonian
                            virginal                           Institution
      13"        C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Anonymous    Boston Museum
                            virginal                           of Fine Arts
      11-1/2     C-f´´´     Polygonal     8´     Anonymous    Folger
                            virginal                          Library,
      12-3/4     C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Anonymous    Cincinnati
                            virginal                           Art Museum
      13-5/8     C/E-f´´´   Polygonal     8´     Anonymous    Smithsonian
                            virginal                           Institution


1548  11         C/E-c´´´   Polygonal     8´     Domenicus    Metropolitan
                            virginal             Pesaurensis  Museum of Art
1554  [a]10-1/2  C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Padre        Vassar
                                                  Stoppacio   College,
                                                              New York
1585  [b]11-1/2  C/E-a´´    Ottavina      4´     Franciscus   Metropolitan
                                                  Bonafinis   Museum of Art
1602  10-1/2     C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord          Christoforus Stearns
                                                  Rigunini    Collection,
                                                              Ann Arbor,
1615  [b]9-3/4   C/E-a´´    Ottavina     4´     Pasquino      Metropolitan
                                                  Querci      Museum of Art
1625  10-1/8     C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´     Valerius     Skinner
                                                  Peres       Collection,
1633  11-3/8     C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Horatius     Smithsonian
                                                  Albana       Institution
1645  11         C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Horatius     Vizcaya,
                                                  Albana      Miami, Fla.
1654  10-1/4     C/E-f´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Anonymous    Smithsonian
1658  11-1/8     C-f´´´     Harpsichord   8´8´   Hieronymus   Metropolitan
                                                  de Zentis   Museum of Art
1665  10         C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Giacomo      Smithsonian
                                                  Ridolfi      Institution
1666  10-15/16   A_{1}-f´´´ Harpsichord   8´8´   Hieronymus   Metropolitan
                                                  de Zentis   Museum of Art
1682  10-7/8     C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´8´   Giacomo      Rhode Island
                                                  Ridolfi     School of
1683  8          C/E-c´´´   Polygonal     8´     B. Obici     Harding
                            virginal                          Museum,
1690  10-13/16   C/E-c´´´   Harpsichord   8´     Giovanni     Smithsonian
                                                  Andrea       Institution
1693  10-5/16    G_{1}-c´´´ Harpsichord   8´8´   Anonymous    Smithsonian
1694  9-7/8      C-c´´´     Harpsichord   8´8´4´ Nicolaus     Smithsonian
                 (minus C#)                        de Quoco     Institution
      9-3/4      C/E-a´´    Clavicytherium 8´8´   Anonymous   Smithsonian
      [b]10-3/8  C/E-c´´´   Clavicytherium 4´     Anonymous   Boston Museum
                            (Ottavina)                         of Fine Arts
      11         C/E-c´´´   Polygonal      8´     Anonymous   Smithsonian
                            virginal                           Institution

[a] This length is approximate. It is double the length of the shortest
string on the instrument.

[b] In order to arrive at a meaningful average value for the string
lengths of the nontransposing group, it was necessary to double the
measured lengths of the pitch _C_ strings of the three instruments tuned
an octave higher.

  Figure | Negative | Catalog
         | Number   | Number
     1   | 56322    | 326,905
     2   | 46792    | 303,544
     3   | 49355A   | 303,544
     4   | 49355B   | 303,544
     5   | 49356A   | 303,544
     6   | 49356    | 303,544
     7   | 49356D   | 332,173
     8   | 49356D   | 332,173
     9   | 49357A   | 332,173
    10   | 49357    | 332,173
    11   | 49355C   | 332,173
    12   | 46795    | 303,545

GPO: 1970 O--380-228

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington 25, D.C. Price 25 cents.


[1] Michael Praetorius, _Theatrum Instrumentorum_, Wolfenbüttel, 1620,
pl. 14.

[2] _Ibid._, pl. 6.

[3] Querinus van Blankenburg, _Elementa Musica_, The Hague, 1739.

[4] Translation by Arthur Mendel in "Devices for Transposition in the
Organ before 1600," _Acta Musicologica_, 1949, p. 33.

[5] Sibyl Marcuse, "Transposing Keyboards on Extant Flemish
Harpsichords," _Musical Quarterly_, July 1952.

[6] Michael Praetorius, _Syntagma Musicum_, Wolfenbüttel, 1614-1620,
vol. 2 (Organographia), chapter 2.

[7] Translation by Arthur Mendel in "Pitch in the 16th and early 17th
Centuries, Part II," _Musical Quarterly_, April 1948.

[8] Marin Mersenne, _Harmonie Universelle_, Paris, 1636, p. 101.

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