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Fr.Harpsichords

Doug Brooke

[MP3 Audio Tracks]
My latest project is an 8+4 GG/AA-c''' single based around Ruckers scalings and designs and using mostly Australian timbers: the case is of Hoop pine, the soundboard of Celery Top pine. I count myself among the pioneers using this timber for soundboards which I think has very good acoustic properties, I hope to add a sound sample once the instrument is playing properly. List contributors can all feel a sense of ownership in this instrument for its largely from contributions that this instrument has many of its detailed features: the oak trenailled case, sloping bellyrail, caesin keytops, iron-galled oak sharps all come from the inspiration of List contributors. Alas the decoration is my own, a rebellion against the modern straight line and cadaverous whiteness of so many modern Flemish harpsichords. I expect opinion will be polarized - on reflection I think it might be a bit tame.
Shooting Board
Here a work in progress showing a shooting board with plane (a Lie Neilsen number 1) in-situ for the purpose of trimming jacks to length. A shooting board ought to be a concept familiar to all woodworkers and several of different sizes will be used in making an instrument - from hastily put together ones such as this made from bits of scrap to the improvised - a soundboard leaf clamped to a plank by kneeling on it and a jointing plane riding on the floor against the plank to quickly joint up a soundboard.


Work in Probres
The jacks, which have already been planed to fit their individual slots are being trimmed to length. They start off overly long and are finished to bring the quill 1mm under the string. I install a quill, trimming it roughly to length and oiling it by rubbing my forehead or nose with my finger and stroking the upper surface of the quill, then fit the jack to gauge how much needs trimming - the nut tapers from bass to treble so the jacks get progressively shorter up the compass - then transfer the jack to the shooting board and trim it with a few strokes of the plane - stopping every half dozen or so shaves to test the jack length. When the length is right I trim the quill to its final length - underlapping the string by a strings width - test that it is working properly and finally install a damper.


Work in Probres
The quills are cut from a raven's feather, starting at the thick end and working upwards. Depending on the feather (big or medium - small feathers have no useful parts) each successive quill will be ideal for a note between a third and a fifth higher than the last one. I use one feather at a time, getting 8-10 plectra from each feather, gradually working through the register.

The instrument is based around Ruckers scalings and designs and uses mostly Australian timbers: the case is of Hoop pine, the soundboard of Celery Top pine. I count myself among the pioneers using this timber for soundboards.

MP3 Audio Track

This was recorded on August 30, 2007, in my home using a simple recording setup, and is intended to illustrate some of the sounds the instrument can producuce rather than my talents as a keyboard artist. To that end, the following sample is offered:

Fall of the Leafe by Martin Peerson [2,295kb mp2 file]

Performace © 2007 by Doug Brooke