page contains complete, unedited copies of two communications (an email
and a letter sent by surface post) from Keith Hill.
Our reply to both appears below them.
From: PICTAGORAS@aol.com [mailto:PICTAGORAS@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2005 8:01 PM
Subject: About your pedal harpsichord at hubharp.com
Dear Mr. Broekman,
I was astonished to read on your webpage for the pedal harpsichord
which your company has made that you are taking credit for a design,
of which I am sure you are fully aware, which I invented. Until
it has been a point of common decency and courtesy that anyone who
borrows my design, both ask me for the use of that design and to
credit me with the origination of that design. I have never ever
refused to allow anyone who asked to use the design as long as I
received credit for the design. I know full well that it is the
design and can not be surpassed and it was my love of music that
brought me to my decision to allow others to use the design without
being paid for that priviledge. But I expect to get credit for
design and will not allow anyone to use the design who fails to credit
me properly for it. For you to assume that my design was lifted
antique originals, which as you know full well do not exist, such that
you could use it, lock, stock and barrel, without first asking me,
violates my spoken agreements with all my colleagues in the instrument
Therefore, I trust, now that you know my position, you will make
amends and ask my permission and give me the prominent credit I
rightfully deserve for the design you clearly adopted for the pedal
harpsichord you made recently which so prominently appears on your
webpage for that instrument. I also expect that you will contact
person who bought the instrument and make them aware of this need to
correct your information regarding the design, as well as anyone else
to whom you may have misrepresented the origin of that design.
If you do what I require, I will happily allow you to use my
without further adieu. I leave it to your good will and judgment
do the right thing without further prompting. I plan to follow
this matter two weeks from now, which should give you enough time to
make any corrections in your various websites and brochures in which
the pedal harpsichord is mentioned.
Keith Hill, Instrument Maker
following is the text of a letter dated November 10, 2005 sent under
Mr. Hill's letterhead and over his signature. It has been transcribed
verbatim so that it may be rendered in HTML
Mr. Broekman and Mrs. Hubbard,
was astonished to read on your webpage, for the pedal harpsichord which
your company has made, that you are taking credit for a design as borrowed
from Hass, which, I am sure you are fully aware, does not exist.
I know because I invented that design back in 1983 after enduring the
misery of building the full-width-of-the-pedal-board design for Harald
Vogel. Please visit the Harpsichord Clearing House website at
harpsichord.com and look at the Hill and Tyre pedal harpsichord pictured
under #2316NY from 1985. That instrument was the fourth in a
series of pedal harpsichord ensembles made during the years 1983-1986.
now, it has been a point of common decency and courtesy that anyone
who borrows my design, both to ask me for the use of that design and
to credit me with the origination of that design. I know full
well that it is the best design for a pedal harpsichord and that it
can not be surpassed. And it was my love of music that brought
me to my decision to allow others to use the design without being paid
for that permission. But I expect to get credit for the design
and will not permit anyone to use the design who fails to credit me
properly for it. For you to assume that my design was lifted
from antique originals, such that you could use it, lock, stock and
barrel, without first asking me, violates my agreements with all my
colleagues in the instrument making business who have asked me and have
built instruments on that design.
I trust, now that you know my position, you will make amends and ask
my permission and give me the prominent credit I rightfully deserve
for the design you clearly adopted for the pedal harpsichord you made
recently which so prominently appears on your webpage for that instrument.
I also expect that you will correct your information regarding
the design, as well as anyone else to whom you may have misrepresented
the origin of that design.
you do this, I will happily allow you to use my design without further
word. I leave it to your good will and judgment to do the right
thing without further prompting. I plan to follow up on this
matter two weeks from now, which should give you enough time to make
any corrections in your various websites and brochures in which the
pedal harpsichord is mentioned.
hope that I am not forced to publish such a correction myself to set
the record straight.
Hill, Instrument Maker
10 th 2005
following is our reply to the points raised in the preceding communications.
you for your letters. I apologize if you feel slighted in this
matter of pedal harpsichords. You seem to feel that the design
of our pedal harpsichord could not have come into being without reference
to yours. I am afraid you are mistaken in this belief.
Our instrument was designed on a clean sheet of Mylar with only the
research resources of the Hubbard shop available to me and without prior
knowledge of your instruments. Thank you, in fact, for pointing
me to images that helped me understand your concern and the scope of
attribute your innovation greatly to insights gained while building
a pedal instrument in the early '80s for Harald Vogel. While
you and I have never before communicated on this subject, I can certainly
imagine the thoughts you had then; they are likely to be much the same
thoughts I had while I was involved in the production of a batch of
three 'typical' pedal harpsichords in 1968 or so, while working full-time
for Eric Herz - my responsibility was to make them play! For
a picture of one of the instruments made at that time, please see Wolfgang
Zuckermann's book, The Modern Harpsichord, 1969, page 128. These
instruments, some of which I have encountered from time to time, struck
me then as eminently inconvenient in several ways. Since, like
most of their modern ilk, they are designed to support the harpsichord
and its stand, they must be wide, the lid must be robust and they must
be at floor level. This makes most normal maintenance needlessly
difficult and, in some instances, nearly impossible without dismounting
the manual instrument, especially given the presence of the then-ubiquitous
English-style trestle stand. Tuning was no fun, either and, aside
from the sheer awkwardness of having to deal somehow with the pedalboard,
could be quite undignified, as well. Also, given the varied designs
of harpsichord stands, the likelihood that any given manual instrument
will be able to be held securely and positioned properly by another
pedal instrument is low and cannot be taken for granted.
I am sure you would agree, such inconveniences would be nearly supportable
if the sound were exemplary. Unfortunately, as I am sure you
are aware, the large soundboard, wide string spacing and their sequellae
conspire to sap the strings of their energy, the sound of its focus
and to efficiently amplify the hubbub of the action. I was particularly
struck that Eric did not tumble to this problem in view of the fact
that one of his dicta (expressed to me contemporaneously) was that it
was entirely possible to have too much soundboard. There also
seems to be, due to their proximity, a particularly efficient coupling
between the bottom of the instrument and the floor, thus transmitting
and amplifying the action thud. Further, whether the lid is arranged
with louvres or a flap, even when open there is still insufficient venting
and, consequently, a muffling effect. Consequently, I took away
from this early (and intense) experience the conviction that these instruments
were splendid exemplars of the way not to design pedal harpsichords
either for convenience or quality of sound.
1979, the year I rejoined Hubbard Harpsichords in my current position,
further experience with different antique-derived designs had confirmed
for me the belief that string spacing is indeed a significant determinant
of the sound to be expected from any given design and that this should
drive the layout of the keyboard, not vice-versa. Thus it seemed
to me that the simple answer to many of these sonic problems would be
to design an instrument with normal string spacing, possessing enough
soundboard area to be easily driven and sound well, but not so much
that the board would become heavy, flaccid and unresponsive.
I found consensual validation for this belief among the plans entrusted
to me then that, in fact, this was the central feature of a design left
by Frank Hubbard as part of a project to develop a pedal harpsichord
kit, a project that was terminated with his untimely death in 1976.
pedal instrument can be made to accommodate any reasonable upper instrument
that has its registers actuated by handstops (a possibility that Eric
Herz, like most other earlier makers, was forced at the time not to
take for granted) by not requiring it to support the manual harpsichord's
usual stand but, instead, providing as part of the package an integral,
all-purpose support for the upper instrument. If, at the same
time it is made narrower, it will be possible for the pedal instrument
to possess a full-length lid, which can then be opened further for easier
maintenance and far better sound dispersion. Rather than having
the provided stand simply straddle the floor instrument, it becomes
possible to use the stand to support both the upper and lower instrument.
By thus using the weight of the pedal instrument as ballast the
security of the whole assembly is greatly increased.
most important drawback to such a scheme is the complexity added by
the necessity of transferring the motion of the pedals to the jacks.
The Herz instruments, taking ‘advantage' of the width necessary
to support the manual instrument stand, directly transfer the pedal
motion to the jack lifting levers, which run straight back (or nearly
so) to the jacks, thus dictating a very wide string spacing –
ca. 30mm as opposed to the manualiter norm of 12~14mm. But, by
introducing a set of intermediate levers (known in the organ trade as
a frame) converging towards a ‘normalized' jack gamut, it becomes possible
to lift a gang of jacks by simply arranging a set of slave levers directly
over the distal ends of the transfer frame levers. Again, this
is all part and parcel of Frank Hubbard's early '70's design.
One can either deepen the case of the pedal instrument to accommodate
the added layer of action or raise it off the floor.
you may have noted, I did indeed choose to raise the instrument off
the floor for the reasons given above and, further, in much the same
manner as the 1760 Gerstenberg pedal clavichord in the Leipzig collection
(illustrated in many books starting with the 1910 Heyer Collection catalog
but the most complete documentation can be found in Clavichorde, Hubert
Henkel, 1981 pp.52-5, pl.26-7, 29, 47). Taken alone, this last
instrument (with its relatively normal string spacing, easy maintenance
and raised position) would put into the gravest doubt your assertion
that there are no valid pre-existing instruments that one could have
used to devise the scheme that we adopted. In fact the same may
be said for the pedal clavichord by J. G. Marckert, Ostheim, at the
Bachhaus in Eisenach (pp. 138-41 in Historiche Musikinstrumente im Bachhaus
Eisenach, Herbert Heyde, 1967). Although both display a very
moderate toe-in to the striking levers, the only part of the formula
missing from these examples is the heavily-angled radial converging
transfer frame action (not necessary due to the octave halving of the
string lengths) but that feature may be seen in a pedal clavichord by
Glueck in the Deutsches Museum, Munich (pictured in The Harpsichord
and Clavichord, Raymond Russell, 2 nd ed., 1973, pl. 90). An
example of this sort of lever map (but symmetrical) was explicitly included
in a full-size ink-and-Mylar drawing of a pedalboard and its instrument
drafted by Frank Hubbard about ten years before you devised a similar
for the concept of a converging (or diverging) action, there is further
and ample precedent (whether by the agency of radial stickers, frames
or rollers) in organ building practice. Converging actions may
be observed in the pedal pianos by Stein (in the Keyboard Instrument
catalog of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1961, pp. 40-1), and the
un-named example in the Ruck collection (pictured in Meisterwerke des
Klavierbaus, Hirt, 1955, p. 356) - both by rollers.
The sole floor-level pedalier of which I am aware (Brodmann, ca. 1815,
cat. Nr. 31 in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum) very nicely skirts
many of the issues associated with modern attempts at pedal harpsichords
by supporting the manual piano's legs on outboard brackets thus freeing
the lid for easy raising. Thus, in fact, while the string spacing
would seem to be dictated by the pedal positions, what we have here
is an historical pedal instrument that lies WITHIN the stand of the
manual instrument (the single tail leg excepted). It seems to
me that, contrary to your assertion, there is in fact a very rich historical
record to mine for various approaches to designing a pedal instrument,
whether harpsichord, clavichord or piano.
all due respect, your statement that we ‘are fully aware' that you were
the inventor of such a scheme, implying that therefore your design must
be regarded as a necessary precursor or a sine qua non to
our own, is both off the mark and not pertinent. First, as previously
mentioned, we quite simply were not aware of your work. I have
never had the opportunity to examine one of your pedal instruments (other
than in the photos posted recently on the internet by Harpsichord Clearing
House – which I subsequently found in a search had been posted
somewhat earlier by Claviers Baroque). Second, I hope I have
demonstrated that, by the time you produced your first such instrument,
Hubbard Harpsichords was in possession of the insight, historical materials
and preparatory design work necessary to have produced our own pedal
instrument conforming to our finished product and had no need of recourse
to your work. Thus it is that I know we have no need to ask your
permission to produce instruments from our own design.
the other hand it appears from your letter to be quite clear that you
utilized the general scheme we both have adopted in a finished instrument
approximately seven years before Hubbard Harpsichords was finally fortunate
enough to secure a commission and I have absolutely no problem in admitting
this. That laurel should go to you. Whether this is entirely
true for the greater harpsichord world remains for future historians
to determine. But for the vicissitudes of orders, it might well
have been different.
In a further letter you suggest that we advertise the ‘design'
(which in the context of this sentence I take you to mean the general
physical scheme) to be derived from an instrument of Hass. I
think if you will carefully and dispassionately parse the wording of
the article (which, in the form to which you have objected, has been
posted since 2000 or before) you will find that we explicitly acknowledge
that 1., there are no extant pedal HARPSICHORDS (separate or otherwise,
by Hass or any other) and state that 2., we have derived the TONAL design
largely from ‘instruments by H. A. Hass'. The intent of the sentence
containing the second statement, I hope you will agree, is to suggest
the sort of sound that might be expected from the pedal harpsichord.
Indeed, the outline and jigging needed to produce the pedal instrument
is that of our large Hass-inspired 4-choir double-manual harpsichord.
I have posted pages containing both forms of your letter as well
as this reply and linked it prominently to our pedal harpsichord page.