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Harpsichord

Harpsichord A stringed musical Instrument with a Keyboard. When a key is pressed, a string (or Course) is plucked by a Plectrum on a strip of wood called the Jack. This ingenious mechanism plucks the string on the key being pressed, but avoids it as the key is released, finally allowing a damper to rest on the string. The cases are often ornate making them desirable as pieces of furniture.

Being plucked means that there is little control over the volume of the sound produced by a key press, unlike the Clavichord or Piano. The strings in a Harpsichord run perpendicular to the keyboard and there is one string (or course) per note. A true harpsichord has two keyboards (manuals) for two sets of strings and a number of stops which affect combinations of jacks.

A smaller version with a single manual and strings running parallel with the keyboard is known as a Virginal. In an instrument where the strings run diagonally, the term Spinet is often used.