Many of you have seen the list of technical drawings on the CIMCIM site
but theres little info to indicate if they are working or documentation
type drawings and most can be expensive A drawing made by a builder who
is trying to communicate how to build will be most useful. These are
available more for clavichords an also spinets. You can be greatly
mislead spending tons of money on a plan and finding little information.
One of the all time best drawings was available with the EarlyMusic
Workshop kit for the anon clavichord. John Barnes actually altered the
original improving it. Marc Ducornets' delin spinet in a very careful
enlargement of the original which works.
For years I had wanted to build a muselar and the only plan was the
1650 Couchet. When I built it as shown the pitch was very low but the
sound was fabulous. I read in Obrien's book how 4 1/2 foot virginals
intended for quart pitch could be strung in brass at modern pitch. I had
to try again with the Boston Museum's muselar. The only drawing was in
Kosters' book so I scaled it out and the result was great. Why not build
a brass strung harpsichord in the original Ruckers scaling. I had to
draft a plan with all the right string lengths but again I had a fremish
single only 60" long.
With clavichords you don't have to worry about absolute pitch as
most small ones are higher than modern.
Harpsichords really need to be scaled right to sound at the pitch you
want. Photo reduction of drawings allows you to calculate the instrument
size to the pitch. Sometimes you can determine what pich the original
was and design with that in mind. Before harpsichord wire many antiques
and there modern copies were crushed by the use of music wire which
would pull all the way to modern pitch.
another example was the instrument I made based on the lovely
Domenicus Pisuarensis in Leipzig. The original was iron strung at 470 or
higher. If you transpose the keyboard down a minor 3rd you have a very
usable C-d3 chromatic instead of C?E f3 and you string it in brass.
If you want a good Ruckers drawing you get the 1/2 size Vleeshuis 1644
and build it at 1/2 step low.A good rule is 10" c2 for brass at modern
pitch 12 1/2 c2 for soft iron wire. The normal 18th c french pitch was
close to a 400 when the c2 got to 13" Modern instruments are hardly
ever strung to the calculated tension they were needing.
I was greatly surprised to find that older iron scale italians
sounded smoother and darker than their 18th century brass strung
cousins. Iron scale french spinets are reedy compared to brass strung
Even a 415 is to high a pitch for many historically scaled
instuments. Jack Peters