Sometimes people can’t decide whether the piano is a string or a percussion instrument. After all, it’s made up of dozens and dozens of strings! But the key element is the fact that pianos make their sound when little hammers strike the strings, akin to a mallet striking a drum. We’re talking about another keyboard instrument that predated the pianoforte, the harpsichord.
It has an array of strings too, but they get plucked to make a sound. The result is this iconic Baroque-era sound, and you’ll notice that all the plucks are equally loud. That means the composer has to find other ways to create dynamics (a sense of rise and fall, loud and soft).
Here’s a piece by 18th-century Portuguese composer Carlos de Seixas, who was a master harpsichord player and composer, making the most of this fascinating instrument.
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