Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instruments. There are two main types of woodwind instruments: reed instruments. What differentiates these instruments from other wind instruments is the way in which they produce their sound. All woodwinds produce sound by splitting an exhaled air stream on a sharp edge, such as a reed or a fipple. A woodwind may be made of any material, not just wood. Common examples include brass, cane, as well as other metals such as gold and platinum. Woodwinds are made out of earthen materials ocarinas. Common examples include flute, clarinet and saxophone. Flutes produce sound by directing a focused stream of air below the edge of a hole in a cylindrical tube; the flute family can be divided into two sub-families: closed flutes. To produce a sound with an open flute, the player is required to blow a stream of air across a sharp edge that splits the airstream; this split airstream acts upon the air column contained within the flute's hollow causing it to vibrate and produce sound.
Examples of open flutes are the transverse flute and shakuhachi. Ancient flutes of this variety were made from tubular sections of plants such as grasses and hollowed-out tree branches. Flutes were made of metals such as tin, copper, or bronze. Modern concert flutes are made of high-grade metal alloys containing nickel, copper, or gold. To produce a sound with a closed flute, the player is required to blow air into a duct; this duct acts as a channel bringing the air to a sharp edge. As with the open flutes, the air is split. Examples of this type of flute include the recorder and organ pipes. Reed instruments produce sound by focusing air into a mouthpiece which causes a reed, or reeds, to vibrate. Similar to flutes, Reed pipes are further divided into two types: single reed and double reed. Single-reed woodwinds produce sound by placing a reed onto the opening of a mouthpiece; when air is forced between the reed and the mouthpiece, the reed causes the air column in the instrument to vibrate and produce its unique sound.
Single reed instruments include the clarinet and others such as the chalumeau. Double-reed instruments use two cut, small pieces of cane bound together at the base; this form of sound production has been estimated to have originated in the middle to late Neolithic period. The finished, bound reed is inserted into the instrument and vibrates as air is forced between the two pieces; this family of reed pipes is subdivided further into another two sub-families: exposed double reed, capped double reed instruments. Exposed double-reed instruments are played by having the double reed directly between the player's lips; this family includes instruments such as the oboe, cor anglais and bassoon, many types of shawms throughout the world. On the other hand, Capped double-reed instruments have the double reed covered by a cap; the player blows through a hole in this cap that directs the air through the reeds. This family includes the crumhorn. Bagpipes are unique reed pipe instruments since they use two or more single reeds.
However, bagpipes are functionally the same as a capped double reed instruments since the reeds are never in direct contact with player's lips. Free reed aerophone instruments are unique since sound is produced by'free reeds' – small metal tongues arranged in rows within a metal or wooden frame; the airflow necessary for the instruments sound is generated either by a player's breath, or by bellows. The modern orchestra's woodwind section includes: flutes, oboes and bassoons; the piccolo, cor anglais, bass clarinet, E-flat clarinet, contrabassoon are used supplementary woodwind instruments. The section may on occasion be expanded by the addition of saxophone; the concert band's woodwind section is much larger and more diverse than the orchestra's. The concert band's woodwind section includes piccolos, oboes, B♭ clarinets, bass clarinets, alto saxophones, tenor saxophones, baritone saxophones; the cor anglais, E♭ clarinet, alto clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, contrabass clarinet and soprano saxophone are used, but not as as the other woodwinds.
Brass instrument Musical instrument Wind instrument Percussion instrument How do Woodwind Instruments work Woodwind Fingering Chart Woodwind Reference – ClassicalMusicHomepage.com
The clarinet is a family of woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an cylindrical bore, a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist. While the similarity in sound between the earliest clarinets and the trumpet may hold a clue to its name, other factors may have been involved. During the Late Baroque era, composers such as Bach and Handel were making new demands on the skills of their trumpeters, who were required to play difficult melodic passages in the high, or as it came to be called, clarion register. Since the trumpets of this time had no valves or pistons, melodic passages would require the use of the highest part of the trumpet's range, where the harmonics were close enough together to produce scales of adjacent notes as opposed to the gapped scales or arpeggios of the lower register; the trumpet parts that required this specialty were known by the term clarino and this in turn came to apply to the musicians themselves.
It is probable that the term clarinet may stem from the diminutive version of the'clarion' or'clarino' and it has been suggested that clarino players may have helped themselves out by playing difficult passages on these newly developed "mock trumpets". Johann Christoph Denner is believed to have invented the clarinet in Germany around the year 1700 by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau. Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the playability. In modern times, the most popular clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, just a semitone lower, is used in orchestral music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided evenly between the two. Since the middle of the 19th century the bass clarinet has become an essential addition to the orchestra; the clarinet family ranges from the BBB♭ octo-contrabass to the A♭ piccolo clarinet. The clarinet has proved to be an exceptionally flexible instrument, used in the classical repertoire as in concert bands, military bands, marching bands, klezmer and other styles.
The word clarinet may have entered the English language via the French clarinette, or from Provençal clarin, "oboe". It would seem however that its real roots are to be found amongst some of the various names for trumpets used around the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Clarion and the Italian clarino are all derived from the medieval term claro which referred to an early form of trumpet; this is the origin of the Italian clarinetto, itself a diminutive of clarino, of the European equivalents such as clarinette in French or the German Klarinette. According to Johann Gottfried Walther, writing in 1732, the reason for the name is that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet"; the English form clarinet is found as early as 1733, the now-archaic clarionet appears from 1784 until the early years of the 20th century. The cylindrical bore is responsible for the clarinet's distinctive timbre, which varies between its three main registers, known as the chalumeau and altissimo; the tone quality can vary with the clarinetist, instrument and reed.
The differences in instruments and geographical isolation of clarinetists led to the development from the last part of the 18th century onwards of several different schools of playing. The most prominent were French school; the latter was centered on the clarinetists of the Conservatoire de Paris. The proliferation of recorded music has made examples of different styles of playing available; the modern clarinetist has a diverse palette of "acceptable" tone qualities to choose from. The A and B ♭ clarinets use the same mouthpiece. Orchestral clarinetists using the A and B♭ instruments in a concert could use the same mouthpiece; the A and B♭ have nearly identical tonal quality, although the A has a warmer sound. The tone of the E♭ clarinet is brighter and can be heard through loud orchestral or concert band textures; the bass clarinet has a characteristically deep, mellow sound, while the alto clarinet is similar in tone to the bass. Clarinets have the largest pitch range of common woodwinds; the intricate key organization that makes this possible can make the playability of some passages awkward.
The bottom of the clarinet's written range is defined by the keywork on each instrument, standard keywork schemes allowing a low E on the common B♭ clarinet. The lowest concert pitch depends on the transposition of the instrument in question; the nominal highest note of the B♭ clarinet is a semitone higher than the highest note of the oboe. Since the clarinet has a wider range of notes, the lowest note of the B♭ clarinet is deeper than the lowest note of the oboe. Nearly all soprano and piccolo clarinets have keywork enabling them to play the E below middle C as their lowest written note, though some B♭ clarinets go down to E♭3 to enable them to match the range of the A clarinet. On the B♭ soprano clarinet, the concert pitch of the lowest note is D3, a whole tone lower than the written pitch. Most alto and bass clarinets have an extra key to allow a E♭3. Modern professional-quality bass clarinets have additional keywork to written C3. Among the less encountered members of t
A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument; the history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications; the date and origin of the first device considered. The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 67,000 years; some consensus dates early flutes to about 37,000 years ago. However, most historians believe that determining a specific time of musical instrument invention is impossible due to the subjectivity of the definition and the relative instability of materials used to make them.
Many early musical instruments were made from animal skins, bone and other non-durable materials. Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations caused rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin. By the Middle Ages, instruments from Mesopotamia were in maritime Southeast Asia, Europeans played instruments from North Africa. Development in the Americas occurred at a slower pace, but cultures of North and South America shared musical instruments. By 1400, musical instrument development was dominated by the Occident. Musical instrument classification is a discipline in its own right, many systems of classification have been used over the years. Instruments can be classified by their material composition, their size, etc.. However, the most common academic method, Hornbostel-Sachs, uses the means by which they produce sound; the academic study of musical instruments is called organology. A musical instrument makes sounds.
Once humans moved from making sounds with their bodies—for example, by clapping—to using objects to create music from sounds, musical instruments were born. Primitive instruments were designed to emulate natural sounds, their purpose was ritual rather than entertainment; the concept of melody and the artistic pursuit of musical composition were unknown to early players of musical instruments. A player sounding a flute to signal the start of a hunt does so without thought of the modern notion of "making music". Musical instruments are constructed in a broad array of styles and shapes, using many different materials. Early musical instruments were made from "found objects" such a shells and plant parts; as instruments evolved, so did the selection and quality of materials. Every material in nature has been used by at least one culture to make musical instruments. One plays a musical instrument by interacting with it in some way—for example, by plucking the strings on a string instrument. Researchers have discovered archaeological evidence of musical instruments in many parts of the world.
Some finds are 67,000 years old, however their status as musical instruments is in dispute. Consensus solidifies about artifacts dated back to around 37,000 years old and later. Only artifacts made from durable materials or using durable methods tend to survive; as such, the specimens found. In July 1995, Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Turk discovered a bone carving in the northwest region of Slovenia; the carving, named the Divje Babe Flute, features four holes that Canadian musicologist Bob Fink determined could have been used to play four notes of a diatonic scale. Researchers estimate the flute's age at between 43,400 and 67,000 years, making it the oldest known musical instrument and the only musical instrument associated with the Neanderthal culture. However, some archaeologists and ethnomusicologists dispute the flute's status as a musical instrument. German archaeologists have found mammoth bone and swan bone flutes dating back to 30,000 to 37,000 years old in the Swabian Alps; the flutes were made in the Upper Paleolithic age, are more accepted as being the oldest known musical instruments.
Archaeological evidence of musical instruments was discovered in excavations at the Royal Cemetery in the Sumerian city of Ur. These instruments, one of the first ensembles of instruments yet discovered, include nine lyres, two harps, a silver double flute and cymbals. A set of reed-sounded silver pipes discovered in Ur was the predecessor of modern bagpipes; the cylindrical pipes feature three side-holes. These excavations, carried out by Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, uncovered non-degradable fragments of instruments and the voids left by the degraded segments that, have been used to reconstruct them; the graves these instruments were buried in have been carbon dated to between 2600 and 2500 BC, providing evidence that these instruments were used in Sumeria by this time. Archaeologists in the Jiahu site of central Henan province of China have found flutes made of bones that date back 7,000 to 9,000 years, representing some of the "earliest complete, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments" found.
Scholars agree that there are no reliable methods of determining the exact chronology of musical instruments across cultures. Comparing and organizing instruments based on their complexity is misleading, since advancements in musical instruments have sometimes reduced complexity. For example, construction of early slit drums involved f
Gottfried Reiche was a German trumpet player and composer of the Baroque era. Reiche is best known for having been Johann Sebastian Bach's chief trumpeter at Leipzig from Bach's arrival there in 1723 until Reiche's death. Reiche was steeped in trumpet playing from an early age – he was born in the town of Weissenfels, Germany which had a long tradition of trumpet music at its court, he went to Leipzig in 1688 succeeding trumpeter Johann C. Genzmer there as Senior Stadtmusicus in 1719. Reiche was a musician of great skill, if one can judge from the trumpet parts written for him by Bach, they are among the most florid and difficult trumpet parts of the Baroque era, quite intended for a player of great virtuosity. He is the subject of a famous painting of the era, made by Leipzig artist E. G. Haussmann for the occasion of Reiche's 60th birthday in 1727. In the portrait, Reiche holds a coiled natural trumpet in his right hand. In his left hand, he holds a sheet of manuscript music on, written a short abblasen or fanfare.
The musical notes are depicted in the painting, the fanfare has been transcribed and performed by several artists. It has served for many years as the theme music to the American television show CBS Sunday Morning. While Reiche himself composed many such abblasen and other "tower music", some scholars believe that the style of the music in the portrait hints at being composed by J. S. Bach himself as a birthday gift for his chief trumpeter. Reiche died of a stroke in Leipzig, collapsing in the street while walking home one night. A contemporary account attributed the stroke to the strain of having played trumpet the previous evening, with "his condition having been aggravated from the smoke given off by the torch-lights", when he participated in the performance of Bach's congratulatory cantata Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215. After his death, Reiche was succeeded by Christoph Ruhe. Don Smithers, Gottfried Reiches Ansehen und sein Einfluß auf die Musik Johann Sebastian Bachs, Bach-Jahrbuch 73, p. 113-150, 1987 Don Smithers, Bach and the Leipzig Collegia Musica, Historic Brass Society Journal 2, p. 1-51, 1990 The Ewald Brass Quintet's recording of the complete Vierundzwanzig neue Quatricinien: Hungaroton HCD 32451 Musical score and sound files of the "Abblasen" Did Bach compose the famous "Abblasen?"
Free scores by Gottfried Reiche at the International Music Score Library Project
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through the organ pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass. Most organs have multiple ranks of pipes of differing timbre and volume that the player can employ singly or in combination through the use of controls called stops. A pipe organ has one or more keyboards played by the hands, a pedalboard played by the feet; the keyboard and stops are housed in the organ's console. The organ's continuous supply of wind allows it to sustain notes for as long as the corresponding keys are pressed, unlike the piano and harpsichord whose sound begins to dissipate after a key is depressed; the smallest portable pipe organs may have one manual. A list of some of the most notable and largest pipe organs in the world can be viewed at List of pipe organs. A list consisting the ranking of the largest organs in the world - based on the criterion constructed by Michał Szostak, i.e.'the number of ranks and additional equipment managed from a single console - can be found in'The Organ' and in'The Vox Humana'.
The origins of the pipe organ can be traced back to the water organ in Ancient Greece, in the 3rd century BC, in which the wind supply was created by the weight of displaced water in an airtight container. By the 6th or 7th century AD, bellows were used to supply Byzantine organs with wind. Beginning in the 12th century, the organ began to evolve into a complex instrument capable of producing different timbres. A pipe organ with "great leaden pipes" was sent to the West by the Byzantine emperor Constantine V as a gift to Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, in 757. Pepin's son Charlemagne requested a similar organ for his chapel in Aachen in 812, beginning the pipe organ's establishment in Western European church music. In England, "The first organ of which any detailed record exists was built in Winchester Cathedral in the 10th century, it was a huge machine with 400 pipes, which needed two men to play it and 70 men to blow it, its sound could be heard throughout the city." By the 17th century, most of the sounds available on the modern classical organ had been developed.
From that time, the pipe organ was the most complex man-made device — a distinction it retained until it was displaced by the telephone exchange in the late 19th century. Pipe organs are installed in churches, concert halls, other public buildings and in private properties, they are used in the performance of classical music, sacred music, secular music, popular music. In the early 20th century, pipe organs were installed in theaters to accompany the screening of films during the silent movie era; the beginning of the 21st century has seen a resurgence in installations in concert halls. The organ boasts a substantial repertoire; the organ is one of the oldest instruments still used in European classical music, credited as having derived from Greece. Its earliest predecessors were built in Ancient Greece in the 3rd century BC; the word organ is derived from the Greek όργανον, a generic term for an instrument or a tool, via the Latin organum, an instrument similar to a portative organ used in ancient Roman circus games.
The Greek engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria is credited with inventing the organ in the 3rd century BC. He devised an instrument called the hydraulis, which delivered a wind supply maintained through water pressure to a set of pipes; the hydraulis was played in the arenas of the Roman Empire. The pumps and water regulators of the hydraulis were replaced by an inflated leather bag in the 2nd century AD, true bellows began to appear in the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th or 7th century AD; some 400 pieces of a hydraulis from the year 228 AD have been revealed during the 1931 archaeological excavations in the former Roman town Aquincum, province of Pannonia, used as a music instrument by the Aquincum fire dormitory. The 9th century Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih, in his lexicographical discussion of instruments, cited the urghun as one of the typical instruments of the Eastern Roman Empire, it was used in the Hippodrome in the imperial capital of Constantinople. A Syrian visitor describes a pipe organ powered by two servants pumping "bellows like a blacksmith's" as being played while guests ate at the emperor's Christmas dinner in Constantinople in 911.
The first Western European pipe organ with "great leaden pipes" was sent from Constantinople to the West by the Byzantine emperor Constantine V as a gift to Pepin the Short King of the Franks in 757. Pepin's son Charlemagne requested a similar organ for his chapel in Aachen in 812, beginning its establishment in Western European church music. Portable organs were invented in the Middle Ages. Towards the middle of the 13th century, the portatives represented in the miniatures of illuminated manuscripts appear to have real keyboards with balanced keys, as in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, its portability made the portative useful for the accompaniment of both sacred and secular music in a variety of settings. In the 11th century, the monk Theophilus described in his treatise, known as Schedula diversarum artium or De diversis artibus, all of th
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position, he chose to stay in the capital. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies and operas, portions of the Requiem, unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35; the circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber and choral music, he is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, Joseph Haydn wrote: "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years". Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria, née Pertl, at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg; this was the capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, an ecclesiastic principality in what is now Austria part of the Holy Roman Empire. He was the youngest of seven children, his elder sister was Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed "Nannerl". Mozart was baptised the day at St. Rupert's Cathedral in Salzburg; the baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form, as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He called himself "Wolfgang Amadè Mozart" as an adult, but his name had many variants. Leopold Mozart, a native of Augsburg, was a minor composer and an experienced teacher. In 1743, he was appointed as fourth violinist in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.
Four years he married Anna Maria in Salzburg. Leopold became the orchestra's deputy Kapellmeister in 1763. During the year of his son's birth, Leopold published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved success; when Nannerl was 7, she began keyboard lessons with her father, while her three-year-old brother looked on. Years after her brother's death, she reminisced: He spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was striking, his pleasure showed that it sounded good.... In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier.... He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, keeping in time.... At the age of five, he was composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down; these early pieces, K. 1–5, were recorded in the Nannerl Notenbuch. There is some scholarly debate about whether Mozart was four or five years old when he created his first musical compositions, though there is little doubt that Mozart composed his first three pieces of music within a few weeks of each other: K. 1a, 1b, 1c.
In his early years, Wolfgang's father was his only teacher. Along with music, he taught academic subjects. Solomon notes that, while Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, there is evidence that Mozart was keen to progress beyond what he was taught, his first ink-spattered composition and his precocious efforts with the violin were of his own initiative, came as a surprise to Leopold, who gave up composing when his son's musical talents became evident. While Wolfgang was young, his family made several European journeys in which he and Nannerl performed as child prodigies; these began with an exhibition in 1762 at the court of Prince-elector Maximilian III of Bavaria in Munich, at the Imperial Courts in Vienna and Prague. A long concert tour followed, spanning three and a half years, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Paris, The Hague, again to Paris, back home via Zurich and Munich. During this trip, Wolfgang met a number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers.
A important influence was Johann Christian Bach, whom he visited in London in 1764 and 1765. When he was eight years old, Mozart wrote his first symphony, most of, transcribed by his father; the family trips were difficult, travel conditions were primitive. They had to wait for invitations and reimbursement from the nobility, they endured long, near-fatal illnesses far from home: first Leopold both children; the family again went to Vienna in late 1767 and remained there until December 1768. After one year in Salzburg and Wolfgang set off for Italy, leaving Anna Maria and Nannerl at home; this tour lasted from December 1769 to March 1771. As with earlier journeys, Leopold wanted to display his son's abilities as a performer and a maturing composer. Wolfgang met Josef Mysliveček and Giovanni Battista Martini in Bologna, was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. In Rome, he heard Gregorio Allegri's Miserere twice in performance, in the Sistine Chapel, wrote it out from memory, thus producing the first unauthorized copy of this guarded property of the Vatican.
In Milan, Mozart wrote the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto, performed with success. This led to further oper
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. This activates a row of levers that turn a trigger mechanism that plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum; the term denotes the whole family of similar plucked-keyboard instruments, including the smaller virginals and spinet. The harpsichord was used in Renaissance and Baroque music. During the late 18th century, with the rise of the piano, it disappeared from the musical scene. In the 20th century, it made a resurgence, being used in informed performances of older music, in new compositions, in certain styles of popular music. Harpsichords vary in size and shape; the player depresses a key that rocks over a pivot in the middle of its length. The other end of the key lifts a jack; when the player releases the key, the far end returns to its rest position, the jack falls back. As the key reaches its rest position, a felt damper atop the jack stops the string's vibrations; these basic principles are explained in detail below.
The keylever is a simple pivot, which rocks on a balance pin that passes through a hole drilled through the keylever. The jack is a rectangular piece of wood that sits upright on the end of the keylever; the jacks are held in place by the registers. These are two long strips of wood, which run in the gap between bellyrail; the registers have rectangular mortises through which the jacks pass as they can move down. The registers hold the jacks in the precise location needed to pluck the string. In the jack, a plectrum juts out horizontally and passes just under the string. Plectra were made of bird quill or leather; when the front of the key is pressed, the back of the key rises, the jack is lifted, the plectrum plucks the string. The vertical motion of the jack is stopped by the jackrail, covered with soft felt to muffle the impact; when the key is released, the jack falls back down under its own weight, the plectrum passes back under the string. This is made possible by having the plectrum held in a tongue attached with a pivot and a spring to the body of the jack.
The bottom surface of the plectrum is cut at a slant. When the jack arrives in lowered position, the felt damper touches the string, causing the note to cease; each string is wound around a tuning pin at the end of the string closer to the player. When rotated with a wrench or tuning hammer, the tuning pin adjusts the tension so that the string sounds the correct pitch. Tuning pins are held in holes drilled in the pinblock or wrestplank, an oblong hardwood plank. Proceeding from the tuning pin, a string next passes over the nut, a sharp edge, made of hardwood and is attached to the wrestplank; the section of the string beyond the nut forms its vibrating length, plucked and creates sound. At the other end of its vibrating length, the string passes over the bridge, another sharp edge made of hardwood; as with the nut, the horizontal position of the string along the bridge is determined by a vertical metal pin inserted into the bridge, against which the string rests. The bridge itself rests on a soundboard, a thin panel of wood made of spruce, fir or—in some Italian harpsichords—cypress.
The soundboard efficiently transduces the vibrations of the strings into vibrations in the air. A string is attached at its far end by a loop to a hitchpin. While many harpsichords have one string per note, more elaborate harpsichords can have two or more strings for each note; when there are multiple strings for each note, these additional strings are called "choirs" of strings. This provides two advantages: the ability to vary ability to vary tonal quality. Volume is increased when the mechanism of the instrument is set up by the player so that the press of a single key plucks more than one string. Tonal quality can be varied in two ways. First, different choirs of strings can be designed to have distinct tonal qualities by having one set of strings plucked closer to the nut, which emphasizes the higher harmonics, produces a "nasal" sound quality; the mechanism of the instrument, called "stops" permits the player to select the other. Second, having one key pluck two strings at once changes not just volume but tonal quality.
A vivid effect is obtained when the strings plucked are an octave apart. This is heard by the ear not as two pitches but as one: the sound of the higher string is blended with that of the lower one, the ear hears the lower pitch, enriched in tonal quality by the additional strength in the upper harmonics of the note sounded by the higher string; when describing a harpsichord it is customary to specify its choirs of strings called its disposition. Strings at eight foot pitch sound at the normal expected pitch, strings at four foot pitch sound