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Re: GG:what is/are virginals?

On Wed, 29 May 1996, I wrote: 

> A virginal usually sounds darker than a harpsichord of the same area/time. 
> More fundamental tone, fewer high harmonics.  That's due to the fact that
> the virginal plucks the string farther from the bridge.  The tone is very
> distinctive; difficult to confuse with either harpsichord or clavichord. 

When I get some time, maybe I'll make a few short .WAV sound files of
various harpsichords, clavichords, and virginals for my home page.  There
is quite a bit of variation in sound among Italian, French, German, and
Flemish harpsichords.  But a virginal is immediately recognizable as a
virginal, as opposed to any harpsichord.  I guess I should make a sample
of Gould's Wittmayer, too.  And a Pleyel.  :)

> And the harpsichord doesn't have a "profusion of sympathetic
> vibration"...the strings are damped when not being played.  A jack at rest
> has its damper resting on the string. 

To this I should add that some modern reconstructions of the Lautenwerk
(gut-strung harpsichord) leave at least one set of strings entirely
undamped.  But such an instrument is an exception. 

Bradley Lehman, bpl@umich.edu       http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/