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date: 19 January 2021


  • Michael Latcham


A keyboard instrument capable of sounding both as a harpsichord and a piano, either through the use of imitating stops or by means of a dual action. Documents show that during the 18th century a substantial number of keyboard instruments which combined the actions of organs, regals, glass harmonicas, Geigenwerken, harpsichords and others were built, reflecting not only the mechanical ingenuity of their makers but also a delight in the rich variety of available musical timbres and a satisfaction in placing them at the command of a single player. In 1783 J.P. Milchmeyer, piano builder and pedagogue, tabulated more than 250 combinations in one of his instruments. In technical and timbral terms, the difference between the harpsichord and the piano was less distinct than it is today. The harpsichord and the ‘harpsichord with hammers’ coexisted peacefully alongside each other and were also combined in single instruments: Bartolomeo Cristofori, Pascal Taskin and J.A. Stein all built instruments of each type....

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Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society
Galpin Society Journal