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date: 23 January 2021

Keyboard musiclocked

  • John Caldwell,
  • Christopher Maxim,
  • Barbara Owen,
  • Robert Winter,
  • Susan Bradshaw
  •  and Martin Elste


Before the mid-17th century composers made little stylistic distinction between one keyboard instrument and another, and players used whichever happened to be available or was best suited to the occasion. Liturgically based works and those containing either long-sustained notes or pedal parts would be heard most often on the organ, and dances and settings of popular tunes on the harpsichord; nevertheless, much of the repertory could be shared. While a number of high Baroque composers exploited the individual characteristics of the organ, harpsichord or clavichord, it was not until the latter half of the 18th century that a distinctive style for the piano, which had been invented about 1700, began to appear: hence the main divisions of this article.

John Caldwell, assisted by Christopher Maxim

The term ‘keyboard’ is here understood to include not only the early string keyboard instruments (the clavichord, harpsichord, virginals etc.), but also the various types of organ (the positive, regal, church organ with and without pedals etc.). ...

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