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Article

Chekker  

Denzil Wraight

The earliest term used in archives and other writings to denote a string keyboard instrument. Its exact meaning is still the subject of debate and research, but it is probable that most references are to a clavichord. There appears to be no Italian equivalent of the name; Farmer suggested that it is derived from the Arabic ‘al-shaqira’ and tentatively identified this as a virginal, but there is no supporting evidence. Some writers identified the chekker as an upright harpsichord (i.e. a ...

Article

Murray Campbell

(b Cleveland, OH, July 19, 1915; d Pittsburgh, PA, Feb 10, 2010). American scientist and acoustician. After studying physics at Case Institute of Technology (BS 1937), he carried out research in nuclear physics at the University of Illinois (PhD 1941). He then joined the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, remaining with the firm for the rest of his professional life; he retired in ...

Article

Echo  

Murray Campbell and Mary Térey-Smith

The repetition of sound after a short time interval. In addition to the applications discussed below the term is used for a signal-processing device (also known as a delay) that produces a slightly delayed playback of sounds either by a tape loop or by digital delay; ...

Article

Howard Mayer Brown

Although it now has only the general meaning of ‘musical instrument’, the word ‘Instrument’ in German used to have the more specific meaning of ‘keyboard instrument’. To judge from the title-pages of late 16th-century German keyboard anthologies by Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach (1571, 1575 and ...

Article

Nicolas Meeùs

A set of levers (keys) actuating the mechanism of a musical instrument such as the organ, harpsichord, clavichord, piano etc. The keyboard probably originated in the Greek hydraulis, but its role in antiquity and in non-European civilizations appears to have remained so limited that it may be considered as characteristic of Western music. Its influence on the development of the musical system can scarcely be overrated. The primacy of the C major scale in tonal music, for instance, is partly due to its being played on the white keys, and the 12-semitone chromatic scale, which is fundamental to Western music even in some of its recent developments, derives to some extent from limitations and requirements of the keyboard design. The arrangement of the keys in two rows, the sharps and flats being grouped by two and three in the upper row, already existed in the early 15th century....

Article

Meane  

Owen Jander

English term referring originally to the middle part of a three-voice polyphonic texture. R. Brunne’s Chronical of Wace (c 1630) refers to ‘the clerkes that best couthe synge, wyth treble, mene & burdoun’. In discussions of discant, 15th-century theorists (Leonel Power, Pseudo-Chilston) applied ‘mene’ to the part sounding a 5th or a 3rd above the plainchant. In the Mulliner Book ten compositions by John Redford (...

Article

Laurence Libin

Pure-tuned harmonium developed by the German physicist and music theorist Arthur Joachim von Oettingen (b Dorpat, Livonia, 28 March 1836; d Bensheim, Germany, 5 Sept 1920) and built by Schiedmayer in Stuttgart. An example from 1914 is in the Musikinstrumenten Museum, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, Berlin. Designed to sound pure 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths, it is based on an octave division into 53 (in some versions, 72) tones and has a complex multilayered but symmetrical keyboard similar to that of Bosanquet’s enharmonic harmonium. Oettingen studied astronomy and physics at the University of Dorpat and continued his education in Paris and Berlin. He was appointed a professor in Dorpat in ...

Article

Edwin M. Ripin and John Barnes

A clavichord equipped with a pedal-board like that of an organ. Instruments of this type are mentioned by Paulus Paulirinus of Prague (c 1460) and Virdung (Musica getutscht, 1511), and a 15th-century drawing shows a clavichord with a two-and-a-half-octave compass B...

Article

A name given by lexicographers to the Sambuca lincea, an enharmonic harpsichord or Arcicembalo , invented by Fabio Colonna , and described by him in 1618.

Article

Nicolas Meeùs

A term to denote the tuning of some of the lowest notes of keyboard instruments to pitches below their apparent ones. The practice was employed from the 16th century to the early 19th to extend the keyboard compass downwards without increasing the overall dimensions of the instrument....

Article

Edwin M. Ripin

The thin sheet of wood in a piano, harpsichord, clavichord, zither, or the like, that serves to make the sound of the strings more readily audible and helps to form the characteristic tone quality of the instrument. A string presents so small a surface to the surrounding air that its vibrations cannot set the air into vibration with any great efficiency; as a result, the sound produced by a string in the absence of a soundboard, although it may well sustain for an appreciable time, is hardly loud enough to be used for any musical purpose. The soundboard, coupled to the strings by means of one or more bridges over which they pass, provides a larger vibrating surface so that the air can be set into vibration more efficiently and a louder sound can be heard. The soundboard does not serve as an amplifier in the same sense as an electronic circuit or device, since it adds no energy from an outside source; rather, it enables the energy already imparted to the string by a hammer, plectrum, tangent, or the like, to be dissipated more rapidly, so this energy is converted to a sound of higher intensity that lasts for a shorter time. The particular resonance and vibrational characteristics of the soundboard determine which components of the complex vibration of the string will be given particular prominence, and the rate at which they will be dissipated; consequently the shape, thickness and ribbing of the soundboard are of primary importance in determining the quality of the instrument of which it is a part....

Article

Peter Williams and Martin Renshaw

Term currently used by organ theorists to denote a list of the speaking stops, accessories and compass of an organ. To a builder, however, ‘specification’ would include technical information on the bellows, action, pressure, chests, case, façade, placement etc., as well as the pipes and stops. The term was used by Hopkins (Hopkins and Rimbault, ...

Article

Philip Bate

In the terminology of organ building, a flue pipe in which the end remote from the mouth is closed by a movable stopper or airtight cap. This provides a means of tuning.

In general, a stopped pipe is any tube that communicates freely with the ambient air at one end and is completely closed at the other. The ...