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date: 20 February 2020


  • Martha Novak Clinkscale


A device invented and patented by Sébastien Erard as part of his first repetition action of 1808, which replaced the nut (wrest-plank bridge) and nut-pin (bridge-pin) arrangement of earlier pianos. Érard’s early agraffe resembled a small brass staple with a concave top. One agraffe for each note was attached at a vertical angle to the front edge of the wrest plank, and the strings were passed underneath. Agraffes define one end of the strings’ speaking length and keep them in place by assuring downward bearing on the strings as the hammers strike. An Érard grand piano of 1812 with agraffes of the original type is now in the Musée de la musique, Paris. Later agraffes have separate holes through which each individual string is passed; each agraffe contains as many holes as there are strings for each unison. Pierre Érard’s improvement, the barre harmonique, which he patented in 1838, still serves as the model for agraffes on the modern grand piano. The agraffe should not be confused with the ...

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