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Lemont, PA 16851
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The Instruments

Flemish Harpsichords

Please click on images below for enlarged versions.

Virginal after Lodewijk Grouwels, Middelburg, 1600

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For those persons seeking an early C/E short-octave instrument, I offer this unique virginal by one of the Flemish makers outside of the Ruckers family. The instrument is of the close-plucking spinet type, but its sound is much less nasal than examples from other contemporary makers. The soundboard ribbing is different from the usual system used by the Ruckers family, resulting in a more lively and resonant sound. A useful option is a keyboard with two split sharps to fill out the short octave, providing notes that are necessary for English music of the period. The original instrument had a child virginal, now lost. If a mother and child instrument is desired, a child based on contemporary instruments can be supplied.

Detail of virginal keyboard


C/E-c3 (45 or 47 notes), A-370 (original) or A-415. 186 x 50 cm (73 x 20 in).

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spacer Ravalement of harpsichord after Couchet
Harpsichord after Couchet, Antwerp, ca. 1650

Around the middle of the 17th century, Ioannes Couchet started to break away from the usual conservative Ruckers models, and he began to build instruments with extended bass compasses and alternate dispositions. This example from the Metropolitan Museum was originally a large single, 8' 4', descending to FF, but sounding at the higher of the two pitches commonly used by the Ruckers and Couchet shops (A-466). The instrument can be built with the original keyboard and pitch, but most modern players will prefer a GG-d3 compass pitched a whole tone lower (A-415). The original in the MMA was eventually rebuilt into a double-manual instrument in the 18th-century Flemish style, with a dogleg coupler and a nasal lute register.

Single: FF,GG,AA-c3 (A-466) or GG-d3 (A-415), 8' 4' or 8' 8', buff. 219 x 87 cm (86 x 34 in).

Double: FF-c3, 8' 8' 4', buff, lute, dogleg coupler. 229 x 87 cm (90 x 34 in).

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Additional Flemish Instruments of Interest

Harpsichord after Ioannes Ruckers, Antwerp, 1642.

Originally a standard Ruckers two-manual transposer, this instrument underwent the usual alterations to install aligned keyboards (GG/BB-d3) and to add a second 8' choir. The case was never enlarged, however. The original four-register configuration was also retained, one of which was converted to a dogleg rank. This allows registrational flexibility, including the use of both eight-foot choirs uncoupled. Players seeking a small, easily transported double may find this instrument to be an excellent choice.

I have also examined 16th-century virginals by Karest, J. Grouwels, Bos, Van der Biest, and Hans Ruckers, and I would welcome inquiries for these instruments. The instrument by J. Grouwels is particularly interesting since it has plucking points that are intermediate between the nasal spinet style and the flutey muselar style, sounding somewhat like a small Flemish harpsichord.

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