>One instrument on which it was my fate to
>impose a transposing keyboard certainly needs dampers everywhere,
>having rather thin wooden jacks with rather thick bottom adjusting
>guaranteed to snag on the key ends when transposing, and shatter the
>jacks. It's not so easy to make all the jacks hang from their little
>dampers well enough to preclude disaster.
Why, oh why are we hung up on these schizophrenic harpsichords that can't make up their
minds at what pitch they are to play??? Making a harpsichord transpose is a formula for future
Although I have made a number of them I still detest them! On one occasion I was dragged out
an hour before a concert to try to unsnarl what had happened when the player tried to change
from her customary 415 position to 440 when she discovered at the last minute that the violinist
with whom she was to play utterly refused to play at low pitch!! I found two jacks (wooden)
broken off (not one of my instruments, by the way). Frantic prayer and yellow glue saved the
evening - just! Wondering how she had gotten into the predicament, I discovered that the
rehearsals had been with a piano (modern, of course!). Over the years I have had several
other transposition problems to unsnarl, but that was the worst.
There is another aspect to consider also. There is ample evidence that side-damping was
common if not universal in the eighteenth century, a condition that results in undamped strings
when the stop is off. (See Hubbard's 3 Centuries - - pl.XL figs. E and F, and article by M.
Thomas in GSJ vol XXIV 1974) And of course, it is virtually impossible to have transposition
Therefore, it seems that harpsichordists need to take a stand and REFUSE to compromise
their instruments by having these wretched transposing features! And of course, it would help
us makers no end if everyone ordered TWO harpsichords instead of only one!!!!! (just kidding - I