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GALLERY: Harpsichord

While many harpsichords have one string per note, more elaborate harpsichords can have two or more strings for each note. When there are multiple strings for each note, these additional strings are called "choirs" of strings. This provides two advantages: the ability to vary volume and ability to vary tonal quality. Volume is increased when the mechanism of the instrument is set up by the player (see below) so that the press of a single key plucks more than one string. Tonal quality can be varied in two ways. First, different choirs of strings can be designed to have distinct tonal qualities, usually by having one set of strings plucked closer to the nut, which emphasizes the higher harmonics, and produces a "nasal" sound quality. The mechanism of the instrument, called "stops" (following the use of the term in pipe organs) permits the player to select one choir or the other. Second, having one key pluck two strings at once changes not just volume but also tonal quality; for instance, when two strings tuned to the same pitch are plucked simultaneously, the note is not just louder but also richer and more complex.

The British Harpsichord Society promotes  awareness , enjoyment,  study , playing and  ownership of harpsichords and related plucked keyboard instruments (such as the spinet and virginals) in Britain. Our aim is to create more public awareness and encourage more people to enjoy and play the harpsichord.

The harpsichord was an important keyboard instrument in Europe from the 15th through the 18th centuries, and as revived in the 20th, is widely played today. This article gives a history of the harpsichord ; for information on the construction of this instrument, its variant forms, and the music composed for it, see harpsichord .

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