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4539 HCH

Unaligned Flemish Double by Philip Tyre

4539 HCH

An unaligned Flemish double by Philip Tyre, Opus 94, 1996-- one of two such instruments by the builder.  The instrument is a reproduction of the 1638 Ruckers at the University of Edinburgh.  It is unique in that it is capable of having its keyboards changed thru three stages of a simple ravalement, so that one can play, across time: 1- the original 1638 unaligned transposing double; 2- an aligned configuration of, say, 1670; 3- a filled out configuration of perhaps 1700.  

This is a faithful recreation of the kind of double manual harpsichord built between about 1590 and 1650 by the Ruckers workshop in Antwerp.  It is extremely likely that this was the kind of harpsichord purchased by Sweelink on his 1604 trip to Antwerp.  The instrument has one set of strings at unison (8') pitch and one set an octave higher (4') pitch). Each set of strings is plucked, however, by two sets of jacks, one operated from each keyboard.  The feature of this design that is considered unusual or even strange in modern times is that the two keyboards are not aligned with each other, and thus play at different pitches: the lower keyboard playing a fourth lower than the upper keyboard.  So, for example, if you play the note "middle c" on the lower keyboard. you pluck the string that is played by the note "g below middle c" on the upper keyboard. (It is the upper keyboard that is at the standard pitch of the day).  This model of transposing double manual harpsichord was the ONLY kind of double manual harpsichord that the Ruckers workshop--by far the leading northern European builder of the era--made or was willing to make.  

This instrument is in our Rehoboth, MA gallery.