fretted clavichord


The pairs of strings of a clavichord vibrate when struck by a tangent attached to the back of each key. This particular model is called a fretted or gebunden type of clavichord. It is characterized by the fact that, unlike the fret-free clavichord, the keys share the same pair of strings with other keys. Consequently, the keys which use the same string cannot be played simultaneously.

This clavichord was catalogued at the mim as "early seventeenth-century Flemish". When Joris Potvlieghe came to restore the instrument with a view to it being used for recordings and concerts, he promptly came up with a different story.   

The "Flemish" paper with seahorse motif stuck to the inside of the lid is familiar from the Ruckers' harpsichords made by the famous seventeenth-century Antwerp dynasty of that name. However, on closer inspection the paper in question was found to be of inferior quality and so probably added at a later date. The tessitura or range of the keyboard with a full four octaves also suggested a date later than the seventeenth century.

A detailed study of the measurements, the materials used and the strings led Joris Potvlieghe to the hypothesis that this instrument was probably built in Northern Germany or Scandinavia at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In the course of the eighteenth century it is thought to have been altered in Antwerp or the Antwerp area when the tessitura was extended and the lid embellished with "Flemish" paper. In the twentieth century someone set about restoring the instrument to its original state, but did not do a thorough enough job...

fretted clavichord inv.1619
fretted clavichord inv.1619 top view