[For pictures, click here].

Travel-clavichords, of modest weight and size, were frequently used in the eighteenth century by travelling virtuosos and composers (including Handel and Mozart). This little instrument is loosely based on one in the Vienna Kunst­historisches­museum, with details taken from a number of other small clavichords. As in the Vienna instrument, the small size is made possible by using single strings for part of the compass.

This is about as small and lightweight as a standard-pitch clavichord can be: yet it has a lively and attractive musical personality, and a sound out of all proportion to its size.

Outline specification:

Compass: C-e³ at standard pitch (=440 Hz). Fretted diatonically from note f upwards, with D's and A's unfretted. This system of fretting was common throughout the eighteenth century, and presents few problems with almost any repertoire (click here for more on fretting).

Temperament: Thomas Young no. 2 (possible alternatives: Valotti or Werckmeister III).

Size: 975 × 277mm (38½ × 11 in)

Weight: about 7.3 kg (16 lbs).

Stringing: Single-strung in the bass from C–e; double-strung in the treble f–e³. Notes C-e have specially-made open-wound strings (copper on brass). The remaining notes are strung in plain brass wire.

Keyboard: Naturals of box, sharps of ebony, with arcaded keyfronts. The keylevers themselves are made of English lime, with traditional roof-carving. Octave span 160 mm.

Case: English oak, with decorative mouldings round base and on top edge of case, also on lid. Alternatively, the case can be made of cedar or cypress, which give the instrument an Italianate appearance. Walnut may also be a possibility, depending on stocks in hand.

The instrument has a socket for the tuning key (supplied), and a small tool-box at the left-hand end of the keyboard. The open lid serves as music-desk. A soft fabric carrying case can be supplied, designed so that the clavichord can be carried slung over one shoulder.

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