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Re: GG:what is/are virginals?

On Wed, 29 May 1996, Bradley P Lehman wrote:

> On Sat, 25 May 1996 kb@terminus.cs.umb.edu wrote:

> > sounds like a ``light'' harpsichord on the recording. Somewhere between
> > a clavichord and a harpsichord? But if I bet if you gave me a blindfold
> > test, I couldn't tell the difference. (Which says more about me than the
> > instruments :-)
> How ancient is that recording?  Apparently you haven't heard a virginal
> played live recently.  :)

Nor I.  Ancient memory stirs impression of anorexic harpsichord. :)
> A virginal usually sounds darker than a harpsichord of the same area/time. 
> More fundamental tone, fewer high harmonics.  

Yes; softspoken.

> > ... The whole instrument is usually 4-6 feet long, the keyboards
> > are about half of that (on the right, on every one I've seen). The
> > strings go the length of the instrument.
> No, it is rare for virginals to have two manuals.  The instrument is 4-6
> feet *wide*, and less than 2 feet front to back.  Mine (an Italian model)
> has the keyboard in the middle. 

And were often tabletop affairs; perhaps would double nicely as a bundling 
board, thus enhancing the reputation of both the instrument and the virginal 
performer. :)
> > 
> > It was traditionally a instrument played by women (every period picture
> > I've seen has a woman playing it, and my recording is by a woman
> > :-). Perhaps some vague metaphorical resemblance to harps?
> That business about it being played traditionally by women is, I believe,
> folklore. 

Oh, they didn't call them virginals for nothing. :)

> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Dr. Bradley Lehman, bpl@umich.edu   http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/  
> (A.Mus.D in harpsichord)
Much enjoyed my visit to your home page.  Bookmarked your Hotlist. 
[Public warning:  Bradley's Hotlist runs twenty-seven pages.  
Some serious lost sleep here.]