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.

French Harpsichord

PlayJ. Duphly, La Boucon
Andreas E. Beuermann