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Pedal Board Harpsichord



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We have recently filled an order for a pedal board harpsichord. Since these are rather unique instruments, we thought some of you might find a description of interest.

The elusive pedal harpsichord". . . as elusive as the shy unicorn and possessed of the same menacing charm . . . was how Frank Hubbard described the baroque pedal board harpsichord in Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making (See section on Books). Although no antique harpsichords have survived the ages with their original pedal boards, enough 17th and 18th century references may be found to corroborate the existence of these exotic instruments.

 

Another view of the pedal harpsichordTwo types of pedalboard harpsichords have been identified in workshop inventory listings of the period: (1) those with a simple pull-down mechanism consisting of cords attached from the undersides of the manual keys to corresponding pedals, and (2) a more complex instrument which was wholly independent of the manual harpsichord. Apparently, both were sought after by organists as practice instruments; however, references in Jakob Adlung, Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrheit (1758) and Johann Samuel Halle, Werkstate der heutigen Kunste(1764) indicate that among 18th century German harpsichord makers the independent pedal instrument was of greatest interest.

Another view of the pedal harpsichordOur pedal board harpsichord is of the second variety (please click for a discussion of the origins of this design in modern times). An independent cabinet including the lid is positioned underneath the manual harpsichord. It stands 4" off the floor and extends a short distance beyond the tail of the manual harpsichord. The 30-note pedalboard is centered under C-f''' on the manual instrument. A specially fitted stand and bench accommodate both pedal and manual instruments.

 

The final peak at the pedal harpsichordThe tonal design of the Hubbard & Broekman pedal board harpsichord is based largely on instruments by H. A. Hass. The pedalboard has a range of C-f ' (2 1/2 octaves) and transposes one semitone providing a' at either 415 Hz or 440 Hz. It is both straight and flat in the European manner with naturals on 60 mm centers. The instrument is disposed 1 x 16', 1 x 8' (two registers, front- and back-plucked), 1 x 4', buff. For tuning convenience the main instrument contains a small 31-note manual keyboard which slides forward and disengages the pedals.

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