hiding in a fifty dollar harpsichord stop



French Classical Music

One of my passions as a college student was the music of the French Classical period, especially music for harpsichord. I have found that while Bach and the English Virginal School can be realized to some extent on the piano, Couperin and his French colleagues do not fair so well.



Another book I purchased from Cramer was Soderlund’s annotated performer’s edition of Clerambault’s First Organ Book. It is an excellent edition with pages and pages of background and explanation.


It reminded me how much I miss French Classical Music.

After church yesterday I felt like I needed to hide. Instead Eileen and I had lunch, went to the grocery store and visited Mom. Needless to say by the time we got home I was exhausted.

Then I began thinking about French Classical music and reading in Soderlund’s Preface to her Clerambault edition. It occurred to me that my new $50 synthesizer would have a harpsichord stop on it. For kicks I began looking at the sounds on this machine.

Hmmm. I didn’t think the harpsichord sound was as bad as I usually think of electronic harpsichord sounds.

Then it also occurred to me that the touch on the synthesizer was more harpsichord friendly than piano. It is, of course, a very flimsy piece of equipment and I’m pretty sure the designers didn’t think too much about the feel for the performer of the keys.

But I began playing through some of my French Classical Music. When I looked up, an hour and a half had past. I was still exhausted, but I felt a small exhilaration to return to this passion.

I’ve also thought that it might be interesting to record myself playing a bit more and use these recordings here to show what I’m doing in the privacy of my little house.

So this morning I was motivated to video me playing some harpsichord music. After several tries, I came up with the one above. I put it here so that you can decide what you think of the sound of my fifty dollar harpsichord stop. I know it’s a bit pathetic, but I don’t think I’m going to be fixing my old broken harpsichord soon and I do sorely miss this music. It has little application to my church work. That’s probably a small part of its attraction, but mostly I have spent a good deal of time thinking about, learning and performing this music. it’s good to get back to practicing it even on a silly little synthesizer.

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L’Auguste is the name of this Allemande. It refers to Louis XIV who was very formative on the art of dance and music. Francois Couperin was a court musician. There is little known about him except that he had a prominent career in the French Court and lived roughly at the same time that Bach did.

Bach knew his music. I would love to know how Bach performed this highly stylized music. Bach played with French bands in North Germany as a young man. Did they show him how to do their music?

Anyway, I plan to be practicing this stuff on my fifty dollar synth. Maybe I’ll put up more recordings. At least the synth is a bit better tune than my old piano.



2 thoughts on “hiding in a fifty dollar harpsichord stop

  1. Wish I was closer or had time I would put your harpsichord together for you. I like building stuff like that.

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