clavichord. Small kbd. instr. developed in 14th cent. from the monochord and sometimes called clarichord or manichord or chekker. The early clavichord used the same str. to produce 2, 3, or 4 notes by stopping the str. at different points along its length. There was a bridge for each note which was brought into contact with the str. from pressure on a key on the kbd. The bridge also sounded the str., producing a very soft attack. Because of this process of stopping the str., the early clavichord was known as gebunden, or fretted. (gebunden means ‘bound’, and the frets on some early instr. were cords bound round the fingerboard.) Because some notes employed the same str. they could not be played simultaneously, but by the 17th cent. the proportion of str. to keys increased until in the early 18th cent. some clavichords were unfretted (bundfrei). Essentially an instr. for private practice, being too soft in tone for concert use, and is used in this way by orgs. In 20th cent. Howells has composed for it.
clav·i·chord / ˈklavəˌkôrd/ • n. a small, rectangular keyboard instrument, popular from the early 15th to early 19th centuries.ORIGIN: late Middle English: from medieval Latin clavichordium, from Latin clavis ‘key’ + chorda ‘string.’
clavichord Earliest stringed musical instrument with mechanical action controlled by a keyboard. Possibly originating in the 13th century, it was used extensively from the 16th to 18th centuries. The clavichord has a delicate, expressive tone; it was superseded by the harpsichord and then by the piano.
clavichord string-and-key instrument. XV. — medL. clāvichordium, f. L. clāvis key + chorda string, CHORD.
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