Early Keyboard Instruments

The sound of the clavichord, the oldest of the three keyboard instruments, is created when brass-blades are pressed against the strings and set them in motion. The player is then able – as long as he holds down the keys with his fingers - to produce dynamic nuances using the instrument’s delicate, vibrating sound.

The harpsichord’s sound occurs when, as a result of pressing a key on the keyboard, a tiny plectrum plucks a string, sending a vibration to the thin soundboard. This creates a transparent, rich sound well suited to its role in chamber and orchestral music. The harpsichord has a very limited ability to change volume.

The principal of pianoforte sound production involves a hammer that strikes the string and bounces rapidly back, to its place. The round, rich sound varies in strength depending on how hard the keys are struck.