The french harpsichord developed from the Flemish instruments, but it was taken to a very high degree of perfection during the eighteenth century, this instrument’s “golden age” in France.

The French school is characterised by an expressive desire for a pliable and full sound, with a mild speech, emphasis on the round bass notes, and a very sensitive and delicate touch.

French Harpsichord

The typical disposition is three registers (8’8’4′, lute), two keyboards with a large compass (FF-f3), and a shove coupler.

Some instruments have a fourth register (called the “peau de buffle”), which sounds very soft, and occasionally a mechanism operated by a knee-lever to change registers (the “machine” stop).

French Harpsichord

The case is usually painted in one or two colours, with gilded mouldings and bands (or, alternatively, is decorated in chinoiserie); there is often an oil painting on the inner side of the lid, and the soundboard is decorated with flowers and birds.

Das französische Cembalo

Listen to this instrument:

PlayJ. Duphly, La Boucon
Andreas E. Beuermann