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THE PIANOFORTE AND ITS MUSIC ii. Mcdicrval Precursors of the Modern Instrument -Chiriehord ami llarpti chord-Invention of the Pianoforte -Rival Claimants. We h»v« now before us the primary form of the instrument which, despite its simplicity, contested longest for supremacy with the piano forte after the latter had entered the arena. The mechanism of the monochord of the elev enth century was to all intents and purposes the mechanism of the clavichord (clan*, key; chorda, a siring), which might still have been A HARPSICHORD BY HANS RUCKERS IN THE MUSEUM OF THE PARIS CON SERVATOIRE. (Originally it had four ortavs.) seen occasionally in the music loving houses of Germany in the middle of the nineteenth <■< r.t ury. . The k< v was a simple lever, one end of wnicn received the pressure of the finger, while the other extending under the strings of the in ,nt was armed with a bit of metal placed , and at right angles with the string x '- . th( ] v was pressed tk>wn the Mow dealt ! y this bit of metal, called a "tangent," set the ttr-ins to vibn ting, and at the same time meas ured off the segnw nt of the string which had to V ibrate to produce the desired tone. The tan ... , ; i acted as a bridge, and had to be held ■. -:,-.-( the string so long as the tone was to r< .ntinue. On its r< lease the tone was immedi ately muffled, or damped, by strips of cloth ■v hith were intertwined with the -.vires at one Down to the end of the sixteenth century, though the strings were multiplied, the name monochord was still used, and, though the range of the instrument had reached twenty-four ii. .is. the strings were still tuned in unison. Gradually, however, the strings for the acuter tones wore shortened by a bridge placed diag onally acr< ss the sound board, this contrivance being borrowed, it is said, from another keyed instrument ailed the clavicymbal, which was, in effect, a triangular system of strings to which a mechanical device had been applied which 1 lucked or snapped the strings, somewhat in imitation <>f ;< harp player. It is to instruments of this class that I now r ,,?,!nss myself, fur it was fur them that iho earliest music was written which has survived in ill" repertory of the pianist, and it was upon them that the predecessors of the great virtuosi :ib<«ut whom T shall speak played. But it would I .«• idle tv attempt to explain all the differ ences between them. They were a numerous t r i 1 . r • and the members bore numerous names, of which those that have endured longest in the literature of music, and which, indeed, were Epok< :i by our grandparents as glibly as we say piano now, were spinet and harpsichord. We Ehall lc- spared a lot of curious and vtiin br;iin cudgelling if we look upon these names, as also clavicytherium, clavi embalo, gravicembalo, fpinette and virginal, as no more than designa tions in vogue ;it different times or in different countries, or at the most as names standing fur variations in shape or structure of the instru ir.< nt which filled the place before the nine teenth century that the pianoforte does now. In all tlv instruments of this class the strings were picked with tiny points of quill (generally, though the material varied) held in bits of w 1 called "jacks," which moved freely in slots piercing the Bound board and rested upon one end of the key levers. The quill was a tiny thing, not mere than a third of an inch in lenslh, thrust through a narrow tongue which moved on a pivot through a slot in the upper part of the j:u k. When at rest the quill point lay a trifle below the string and at an an^le with it. The key being pressed down, the jack sprang upward, and the quill in passing twanged the string. When the key was re leased t'ne jack dropped back to its place and th< q ii!! slipped under the string, ready for a r* i ;i!ion ef the movement. To enable it to do this »vas the mission of the little tongue in wliicii it was stt. This was held in iila.ee flush NEW-YORK DAILY TmBTTNE. SUNDAY, JUNE 12, 1010. (Copyright, 1910, by H. E. Krehbiel.) with the front face of the jark by a delicate spring of wire or hog's bristle. The tongue could move backward but not forward, but. the quill being pointed a little upward, when it fell back upon the string the spring gave way. the tongue moved back a bit and the quill regained its position below the string. It you will read Shakespeare's 128 th sonnet it will help you to keep in mind the action of these Jacks, though at times the poets description seems to con found them with the keys. Two hundred years ago the perfection of in struments of the clavier class —that is, in struments with strings played upon by manipu lation of keys— was thought to have been reached. This, at least, is the recorded judg ment of writers of that period. From a me chanical point of view, indeed, some of these in struments were marvels; but as music became less and less mere pretty play of sounds, and gave voice more and more to the feelings of FRONT AND SIDE VIEWS OF A HARPSI CHORD JACK. composer and player, the defiriem ies of virginal, spinet and harpsichord became manifpst. Even the most elaborate and perfect or the quilled machines, the harpsichord, was a soulless thing. It was impossible t«. vary the quantity and quality of its tone sufficiently to make it an ex pressive instrument, and it is very significant 10 this study In all its asperts that the greatest musicians of two centuries ago. Vfcßa they were obliged to comi^se for the harpsichord and give it their preference in the concert room, nevertheless, as we know from Bach's example (hut of that more anon), used the crude and ■fanpicr clavichord as the medium of th» ir pri vate communing* with the muse. Imperfect and weak as it was. the clavichord had yet the capacity in some degree to aug ment and diminish the tone at the will r,f the player. The tone of the other instruments was not ineptly described as "a scratch with a note at the end of it. " Kfforts unceasing were made to increase and give variety to the tone, but in vain. The defect was fundamental. The earliest attempts at improvement seem to have been directed to the jacks. Th" quill points had an unfortunate habit of wearing out rapidly, and when a player sat down to his instrument in a fine frenzy of inspiration he sometimes had IC LESSON." by Gabriel Metzu.) "THE MUS (Prom a painting to stop and put In new quills as well as to tune it. So substitutes for goose and crow quills were sought for, and fish bone, stiff cloth, leather, metal and other materials were tried. The principle, however, always remained the same, and the defect was never remedied: the jacks twanged the strings, and twanged them with uniform loudness. For the sake of vari ety in tonal effects dampers of various kinds were also invented to check and modify the vibration of the strings after they had been twanged; and, later, strings were added which could be plucked simultaneously with the orig inal set bj- an additional row of jacks. These added strings were first tuned in unison with the others, so that just twice the amount of tone resulted from their use, but Ruckers, of Antwerp, the most famous harpsichord builder of his time, conceived the idea of adding an ex tra system of strings tuned in the octave above, which could be coupled to the original system at will. The front of the harpsichord, which was the instrument to which most of these im provements were attached, came in time to look something like the console of an organ, with its draw stops, pedals and knee swells. The builders also used different kinds of metal in their strings for the sake of added effects, and since the quantity of tone could not be varied by the touch of the player, the swell box idea was borrowed from the organ, the entire sound board of the instrument being covered with a series of shutters, like the so-called Venetian blinds, which could be opened and closed by the player by pressure of his foot. AH these mechanical contrivances were little better than makeshifts. They did not go to the real scat of the difficulty, and the inventive in- genuity which prompted thttn^Nl largely in the creation of fantastic *** fa whose worth!* is demonstJjSl fact that they have long since cea**T *» 'J the attention of musicians. Devices **'** at. led the harpsicfiortl play*- to *J?^ voices of the flute, trumpet, baj^ijT'^*' oboe anil fife, the rattle of drama i nets, and even the noises of a rains** 8 * admired by the idle and curious, bctta^* ous musician they were mere met* „,**** osities. • <ir '\ Several of the contrivances, ft.. afterward utilized in th* pianoforte ' * ends. The shifting of the keyboard b! of a pedal which is now Q s*>«J j a if 3 "! pianoforte to divert the blow of ti * A GROUP OF CLAVICHORD KF'? (From an MlHnl 'nr ■! hy ?h«» &&. from one or two of the unison strings, corda, or the "soft pedal," as it 13 cons, called) was first applied to the harpsicicr the purpose of transposition. Cloth *_ which were used to mo<iify the tone ,i harpsichord are interposal between the ' mers and the strings of a square piancfor.; soft effects. For many decades builders of sphkt) I harpsichords strove— th«ir successors, i are still striving— to overt< rr.e a deficiency? I is inherent in the nature of the instnsc." 1 I have said elsewhere in rr.y book, "E;-. Listen to Music" (page 138), despite allfc learning and ingenuity which have been < on its perfection, the pianoforte can be -1 only feebly to approximate that sustain*^ of musical utterance which is the soul tiV ody and finds its loftiest exfmpli3ca^.:|. singing. To give out a melody perfectly pnxn the capacity to sustain tones without £M power or quality, to bind them together si. and sometimes to intensify their dycjc-' expressive, force while they sound. Theua the pianoforte, like that of all its rrecuncs gins to die the moment it is created. Taj coveries in the field of acoustics wtddl m been made within the last century, an4tk4 troduction of the hammer action in placed; jacks, have wrought an improvement in Car : spect, but the difficulty has not been *m\ and cannot be within the family to what,' keyed instruments which we have lets*", sidering belong. A string plucked or stnt order to produce a sound is at once bcyaS; I control of the player. To keep it witha*] trol the string must be rubbed. It is bsoafl the importance which this truth ?sscaedki mind of one of the inventors of »he pJaait and his experiments with an instrument « combined the dulcimer and harp priadplas' : I shall tell the story of the German teas Schroter, at greater length than that t\ i Frenchman. Marius, or the Italian, CaMI . To each of these I purpose to leave tie s; of being an isolated inventor, tbcr::S: . worked at different times and bronsit : « their inventions in the reverse order ef&j which I have presented their names. One of the devices invented for the JRS?i; ] prolonging the tone of the harpsichord ; corporated in an instrument called "Ge? : werk."' which came from Nuremberg; to j for its inventions through many ca» ■ Properly speaking, it did not belong to &" struments of the clavier class at all, fcr.tir 1 it utilized tense strings, a sound boariaßM its fundamental principle was bcrra'xed X.,*-. the viol. It was. in fact, a highly develops- I aristocratic hurdy-gurdy. In it, by nasr I treadles,, wheels covered with leaiieri j coated with powdered resin were aa«t* ! volve, and while revolving were pressed : the strings by manipulation of the kej* Christopher Gottlieb Schroter was anas Continued en fifth pagr. LONG SANG Tl CHINESE CURIO CO 293 Fifth At*-.. bet :>Oth and 31*t, >'« J*^ Their book!, iT 1 . illustrating the b:»!orj<*^ Art and *ti>n»-» to b* — n for *i«*l I****' days, now ready.