Pianos sound incredibly dynamic and lifelike, while harpsichords sound one-dimensional, stale, and thin. The strings are under tension on a soundboard, which is mounted in a wooden case; the soundboard amplifies the vibrations from the strings so that the listeners can hear it. The harpsichord was not as versatile as the new instrument, so the piano eventually supplanted it.  Eventually, harpsichords came to be built with just a single case, though an intermediate stage also existed: the false inner–outer, which for purely aesthetic reasons was built to look as if the outer case contained an inner one, in the old style. Artwork courtesy of US Patent and Trademark Office. A virginal ranges from 2.5 feet to 6 feet and is a member of the harpsichord family. Second, the harpsichord has a smaller range, typical modern instruments having five octaves from F1 to F6, to the piano’s seven-plus octave range, A0-C8. A clavicytherium is a harpsichord with the soundboard and strings mounted vertically facing the player, the same space-saving principle as an upright piano. Kenneth Slowik, curator of the Musical Instrument Collection at National Museum of American History and artistic director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, shows us how he plays the harpsichord. Much of the musical repertoire written for harpsichord and organ from the period circa 1400–1800 can be played on the clavichord; however, it does not have enough (unamplified) volume to participate in chamber music, with the possible exception of providing accompaniment to a soft baroque flute, recorder, or single singer. Concertos for the instrument were written by Francis Poulenc (the Concert champêtre, 1927–28), and Manuel de Falla. Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) began his career in Italy but wrote most of his solo harpsichord works in Spain; his most famous work is his series of 555 harpsichord sonatas. When the key is released by the player, the far end returns to its rest position and the jack falls back. The metal strings are sounded by plucking with a small piece of material called a plectrum which is held in a narrow slip of wood called a jack attached to the key mechanism. A different approach was taken in the Southern Netherlands starting in the late 16th century, notably by the Ruckers family. When rotated with a wrench or tuning hammer, the tuning pin adjusts the tension so that the string sounds the correct pitch. The bottom surface of the plectrum is cut at a slant; thus when the descending plectrum touches the string from above, the angled lower surface provides enough force to push the tongue backward. some Flemish instruments), with paper printed with patterns, with leather or velvet coverings, with chinoiserie, or occasionally with highly elaborate painted artwork.. Bach: The Work for Organ & Harpsichord, Chapter II - 1. The soprano sings a trill in bar 13. Bach was also a pioneer of the harpsichord concerto, both in works designated as such, and in the harpsichord part of his Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. Every individual instrument is a work of art and made-to-order. However, this description, though being rather funny, is not entirely fair as there are some beautiful sounding harpsichords in existence. The clavichord usually takes the form of a shallow oblong box, with keys like those of a piano inset into one of the long sides. The Harpsichord. Clavichord: These are a cross between a harpsichord and a piano because the strings on a clavichord are hit instead of plucked. Among the most famous composers who wrote for the harpsichord were the members of English virginal school of the late Renaissance, notably William Byrd (ca. Funky harpsichord recording (WAV, 1.7 MB) The basic Karplus–Strong algorithm produces sounds that are reminiscent of the harpsichord for many listeners, but only when a high sample rate is used. Base prices below generally reflect what would be considered typical decoration for that type of instrument, however the final price may vary depending upon the specifics of an order. Don't imagine that you will hear a work of the complexity of the Goldberg or Diabelli variations. A stringed keyboard instrument developed during the 14th and 15th century, the harpsichord was widely used until the early 19th century when it was superseded by the piano. The metal strings are sounded by plucking with a small piece of material called a plectrum which is attached to the key mechanism. Tuning pins are held tightly in holes drilled in the pinblock or wrestplank, an oblong hardwood plank. Twentieth-century efforts to revive the harpsichord began with instruments that used piano technology, with heavy strings and metal frames. Cases vary greatly in weight and sturdiness: Italian harpsichords are often of light construction; heavier construction is found in the later Flemish instruments and those derived from them. Strings at eight foot pitch (8') sound at the normal expected pitch, strings at four foot pitch (4') sound an octave higher. This is usually done by having a set of jacks for each choir, and a mechanism for "turning off" each set, often by moving the upper register (through which the jacks slide) sideways a short distance, so that their plectra miss the strings. In comparison, a piano player will have full control over the volume of sound produced, whereas a harpsichord player does not have such control. Ottavini are small spinets or virginals at four-foot pitch. During the period of about 400 years when it was a major keyboard instrument, variations were made to partially overcome this limitation. Instead, the strings are arranged in pairs, and the jacks are in the larger gaps between the pairs. The plectrum, mounted on a tongue that can swivel backwards … We hear it played first on a harpsichord, then on a piano with 'voice-over analysis' then by a computer with the voices panned hard left/right. Reply. In the 20th century, composers returned to the instrument, as they sought out variation in the sounds available to them. With its crisp, silvery tone, the harpsichord was the precursor to the modern piano. A major innovation in harpsichord construction took place in Flanders some time around 1580 with the work of Hans Ruckers and his descendants, including Ioannes Couchet.The Ruckers harpsichord was more solidly constructed than the Italian. (Mexican currency) What is a virginal musical instrument? Introducing the harpsichord jack… Almost everyone recognizes the distinctive sound from the pluck of the harpsichord, but exactly how this is accomplished is a mystery to many: I could never fathom how the harpsichord worked until I was able to see one close up. Yet the compilation remains a favourite. While many harpsichords have one string per note, more elaborate harpsichords can have two or more strings for each note. What Does a Harpsichord Sound Like? Depending on choice of keyboard and coupler position, the player can select any of the sets of jacks labeled in "figure 4" as A, or B and C, or all three. A spinet is a harpsichord with the strings set at an angle (usually about 30 degrees) to the keyboard. How does a piano action work? In the 20th century, it made a resurgence, being used in historically informed performances of older music, in new compositions, and, in rare cases, in certain styles of popular music (e.g., Baroque pop). Harpsichords vary in size and shape, but they all have the same basic functional arrangement. Organ sound is continuously powered, piano sound is percussive not harmonic; in neither does each note have the life essence that a harpsichord gives. Q: What about me asking a local harpsichord maker? How does the harpsichord work? First, a harpsichord may have two keyboards or manuals rather than one, as a piano does. The rationale being that you can use a harpsichord for playing continuo that can mean paid work, while the clavichord is mainly for the solitary player. In addition, such harpsichords often have a mechanism (the "coupler") that couples manuals together, so that a single manual plays both sets of strings. miok says: September 16, 2012 at 12:15 am. Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. These are sometimes called 'mother-and-child' or 'double' virginals. Artwork: A typical upright piano action, from US Patent 334,511: Piano by Isaac Bullard. The Flemish instruments served as the model for 18th-century harpsichord construction in other nations. In England, the Kirkman and Shudi firms produced sophisticated harpsichords of great power and sonority. The English diarist Samuel Pepys mentions his "tryangle" several times. Harpsichords occasionally include a sixteen-foot (16') choir (one octave lower than eight-foot) or a two-foot (2') choir (two octaves higher; quite rare). The ottavino could be removed and placed on top of the virginal, making, in effect, a double manual instrument. This means that a player can have, say, an 8' manual and a 4' manual ready for use, enabling him to switch between them to obtain higher (or lower) pitches or different tone. . Through the 19th century, the harpsichord was almost completely supplanted by the piano. The piano was therefore an advance on the harpsichord as it meant that the player could make the sound louder or softer depending on how hard he hit the keys. Topics covered: How does a harpsichord work?, Must one bring out, or even hear every entrance of the subject?, What about authenticity vs. modern approaches to Bach?, Was Evan really called Slim-E? View More about Double Manual Harpsichord.  Even after harpsichords became self-encased objects, they often were supported by separate stands, and some modern harpsichords have separate legs for improved portability. Pressing a key causes a plectrum to pluck and then "dampen" one or more strings. The most flexible system is the French "shove coupler", in which the lower manual slides forward and backward. Elliott Carter's Double Concerto is scored for harpsichord, piano and two chamber orchestras. More common were instruments with split sharps, also designed to accommodate the tuning systems of the time. All transposition does is change the overall pitch level of the instrument - but your temperament has been left behind. A stringed keyboard instrument developed during the 14th and 15th century, the harpsichord was widely used until the early 19th century when it was superseded by the piano. There can also be more than one keyboard, like an organ, which also was a way to make the sound louder. I am always unhappy when these 'cheap harpsichords' go to a serious student and especially when they are bought for a child. Instruments from the peak of the French tradition, by makers such as the Blanchet family and Pascal Taskin, are among the most widely admired of all harpsichords, and are frequently used as models for the construction of modern instruments. Deep bass notes typically form the root of the chord, and F♯ and G♯ chords were seldom used at this time. Its shape, described as a large wing shape, was developed hundreds of years before the similar shape of the grand piano. The jacks labeled A in Figure 5 have a "dogleg" shape that permits either keyboard to play A. Performed by Robert Schröter on a French harpsichord, Performed by Martha Goldstein on a Flemish harpsichord, Performed by Sylvia Kind on a harpsichord of the type made in the early 20th century, and although they had come into contact with the piano later on, they nonetheless continued to play the harpsichord and clavichord for the rest of their lives. Here's … When the front of the key is pressed, the back of the key rises, the jack is lifted, and the plectrum plucks the string. The virginal is a smaller and simpler rectangular form of the harpsichord having only one string per note; the strings run parallel to the keyboard, which is on the long side of the case. It is certain that [the harpsichord’s] subtlety is more anachronistic than ever." It usually includes a solid bottom, and also internal bracing to maintain its form without warping under the tension of the strings. However, the set of pedals can augment the sound from any piece performed on the instrument, as demonstrated on several albums by E. Power Biggs.. As the key reaches its rest position, a felt damper atop the jack stops the string's vibrations. See more. A side effect of this is that you can't expressively make the instrument play louder or softer, as you can easily on a piano. When scholars specify the pitch range of instruments with this kind of short octave, they write "C/E", meaning that the lowest note is a C, played on a key that normally would sound E. The wooden case holds in position all of the important structural members: pinblock, soundboard, hitchpins, keyboard, and the jack action. When the player releases the key, the far end returns to its rest position, and the jack falls back; the plectrum, mounted on a tongue mechanism that can swivel backwards away from the string, passes the string without plucking it again. Harpsichords work with quills plucking the strings opposed to being hit with hammers like a piano. When the performer presses a piano key softly, the hammer will strike the string slowly, making a soft sound. John says: November 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm. 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 section of the string beyond the nut forms its vibrating length, which is plucked and creates sound. Harpsichords of this type of historically informed building practice dominate the current scene. 1 in A major, BWV 806 – prelude, "Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord by E. Power Biggs at", Learn how and when to remove this template message, Double virginal by Hans Ruckers, Antwerp, 1581, Harpsichord by Jan Couchet, Antwerp, 1650, Golden Harpsichord by Michele Todini, Rome, ca. How does it work? The theme is prominent in all variations and frankly gets tiresome after only a few (after all, Bach only used it - heavily elaborated - once in Goldberg). Tonal quality can be varied in two ways. Nancy Joy Koch says: September 16, 2012 at 7:15 am. Worse yet, those composers writing for the baroque instrument clearly incapable of telling the difference between a harpsichord and a “diesel engine”, as Scott Ross so eloquently put it. Generally longer and narrower than a piano, the harpsichord commonly has a shape similar to a grand piano. A downward stroke on the key raises the plectrum on the other end so that it plucks the string and then pivots so that it does not touch the string on the way down. Bach: The Work for Organ & Harpsichord, Chapter II - 1. The mechanism of the instrument, called "stops" (following the use of the term in pipe organs) permits the player to select one choir or the other. With its crisp, silvery tone, the harpsichord was the precursor to the modern piano. They included the first harpsichords with two keyboards, used for transposition. The great bulk of the standard repertoire for the harpsichord was written during its first historical flowering, the Renaissance and Baroque eras. In France, a great number of highly characteristic solo works were created and compiled into four books of ordres by François Couperin (1668–1733). It was one of the most important keyboard instruments in European music from the 16th through the first half of the 18th century.  Such tables were often quite high – until the late 18th century people usually played standing up. The English "dogleg" jack system (also used in Baroque Flanders) does not require a coupler. i like peanut butter…. Austrian-born, Stehlin lived in relative obscurity, devoting his life to the building of harpsichords. Harpsichordist, conductor, and academic Erin Helyard explains how it works. For both, the instrument featured in the earlier period of their careers, and although they had come into contact with the piano later on, they nonetheless continued to play the harpsichord and clavichord for the rest of their lives. Harpsichord, keyboard musical instrument in which strings are set in vibration by plucking. Henry Purcell, William Byrd, Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and many other classical music composers wrote scores for the harpsichord. The soundboard efficiently transmits the vibrations of the strings into vibrations in the air; without a soundboard, the strings would produce only a very feeble sound. Volume is increased when the mechanism of the instrument is set up by the player (see below) so that the press of a single key plucks more than one string. How Does a Piano Work? Harpsichords at octave pitch were more common in the early Renaissance, but lessened in popularity later on. A few historic harpsichords from the collection at, Three historic harpsichords from the Hans Adler Memorial collection at, This page was last edited on 23 January 2021, at 12:31. The harpsichord makes sound by plucking the strings inside when you play on one of the keys. Composers who wrote solo harpsichord music were numerous during the whole Baroque era in European countries including Italy, Germany, England and France. When describing a harpsichord it is customary to specify its choirs of strings, often called its disposition. In the Low Countries, an ottavino was commonly paired with an 8' virginals, encased in a small cubby under the soundboard of the larger instrument. 19.99 € / The second volume of Couperin's Pieces for Harpsichord does not contain a date of publication however it is thought to have been composed during 1716-1717 due to the address which the composer gave on his other Harpsichord compositions. A particularly vivid effect is obtained when the strings plucked simultaneously are an octave apart. The harpsichord was revived in the late 19th century, and it often is used in modern performances of baroque compositions. In the late 18th century the harpsichord was supplanted by the piano and almost disappeared from view for most of the 19th century: an exception was its continued use in opera for accompanying recitative, but the piano sometimes displaced it even there. I have to play baroque music and get a harpsichord ..... but for example the harpsichord has 2 keyboards like organ .. ..... what is the difference between the sound of the 2 keyboards? During the Baroque era, the harpsichord was a standard part of the continuo group, the musicians who performed the basso continuo part that acted as the foundation for many musical pieces in this era. When the key is released, the jack falls back down under its own weight, and the plectrum passes back under the string. Double sets of strings were used with separate jacks for each set. The plectrum plucks the string and the damper stops the sound when the players lets go of the key. Harpsichords generate sounds by a system that plucks strings when keys are … Learn more about harpsichords in this article. Mozart was noted to have played his second last keyboard concerto (the, In virtually all instances, "more than one" means two. During the late 18th century, with the development of the fortepiano (and then the increasing use of the piano in the 19th century) the harpsichord gradually disappeared from the musical scene (except in opera, where it continued to be used to accompany recitative). Some harpsichords may have a lute stop, which brings a strip of buff leather or other material in contact with the strings, muting their sound to simulate the sound of a plucked lute.. The ancestor of the piano, the harpsichord was first invented 1514. In France, the double keyboards were adapted to control different choirs of strings, making a more musically flexible instrument. A drawback to the instrument is the fact that the player has no control over the loudness and quality of the tone, since that tone is produced by the single pluck. Today, the highest quality instruments use jacks firmly based on historic models to allow the best function and feel, even though modern materials might be substituted for some parts. Wiki User Answered . A stringed keyboard instrument much used in the baroque era in music. While hammers are used to strike the strings of a piano, the strings are plucked in a harpsichord. The harpsichord was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music, both as an accompaniment instrument and as a soloing instrument. The piano, which was first named the “fortepiano,” meaning “loud soft” in Italian, permanently changed the course of music because there had never been an instrument that could combine power, range, and dynamic sounds so well before. The plectrum plucks the string and the damper stops the sound when the players lets go of the key. A downward stroke on the key raises the plectrum on the other end so that it plucks the string and then pivots so that it does not touch the string on the way down. Image: Erin Helyard explains how a harpsichord works. The result is that makers who build clavichords rarely are appropriately compensated for the work of making one. , Occasionally, harpsichords were built which included another set or sets of strings underneath and played by foot-operated pedal keyboard which trigger the plucking of the lowest-pitched keys of the harpsichord. Due to the fact that harpsichord strings are plucked it has a more metallic sound to it. craftsmen and their work pdf Favorite eBook Reading harpsichord plus instruments made and recordings for sale cavigliotti andrea italian harpsichord and psaltery maker as well as piano restorations cembaloworks of washington makers and maintainers of harpsichord and other antique keyboard instruments the harpsichord makers shop resembles that of a cabinet maker and harpsichord … This lifts a jack, a long strip of wood, to which is attached a small plectrum (a wedge-shaped piece of quillor, nowadays plastic), which plucks the string. It's really more of a pedagogical piece. There were also a number of self-taught 'local genius' harpsichord builders in the 60's and 70's whose work is, um, often not very good, and occasionally spectacularly bad. The archicembalo, built in the 16th century, had an unusual keyboard layout, designed to accommodate variant tuning systems demanded by compositional practice and theoretical experimentation. Harpsichords may also have stop buttons which add or remove additional octaves. Two of the most prominent composers of the Classical era, Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), wrote harpsichord music. An accepted exception is for French baroque repertoire, which is often performed with a = 392 Hz, approximately a semitone lower again. 1540–1623). If a performer presses a key hard, the hammer strikes the string quickly, resulting in a loud sound. There were also a number of self-taught 'local genius' harpsichord builders in the 60's and 70's whose work is, um, often not very good, and occasionally spectacularly bad. Experience the characteristic sounds of the Harpsichord; precursor to the modern piano, which was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music. Harpsichords with more than one keyboard (this usually means two keyboards, stacked one on top of the other in a step-wise fashion, as with pipe organs) provide flexibility in selecting which strings play, since each manual can be set to control the plucking of a different set of strings. Proceeding from the tuning pin, a string next passes over the nut, a sharp edge that is made of hardwood and is normally attached to the wrestplank. The jacks are similar, but they will benefit from being arranged back to back, since the two [bass] octaves take as much space as four in an ordinary harpsichord Prior to 1980 when Keith Hill introduced his design for a pedal harpsichord, most pedal harpsichords were built based on the designs of extant pedal pianos from the 19th century, in which the instrument is as wide as the pedalboard. The harpsichord can produce a specific louder sound The Nuts and Bolts of Tuning a Harpsichord. Many harpsichords have a lid that can be raised, a cover for the keyboard, and a music stand for holding sheet music and scores. The player depresses a key pivoted in the middle of its length, which causes the far end of the key to rise. Many harpsichord makers have shown their ingenuity in jack design and materials, some more successfully than others. The harpsichord makes sound by plucking the strings inside when you play on one of the keys. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Harpsichord&oldid=1002227356, Articles containing Italian-language text, Articles containing Spanish-language text, Articles containing Portuguese-language text, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2018, Wikipedia external links cleanup from January 2018, Articles with International Music Score Library Project links, Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz instrument identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. If the player wishes to play the upper 8' from the upper manual only and not from the lower manual, a stop handle disengages the jacks labeled A and engages instead an alternative row of jacks called "lute stop" (not shown in the Figure). A lute stop is used to imitate the gentle sound of a plucked lute.. The strings are too close together for the jacks to fit between them. A Large Italian Harpsichord after Carlo Grimaldi, Messina 1697 ~ disposed 2x8" with a keybaord range of GG to c''' and measures 94" total length by 34" wide and 8" deep. This means that harpsichord is a known musical instrument having a history of at least 600 years.  While these were mostly intended as practice instruments for organists, a few pieces are believed to have been written specifically for the pedal harpsichord. First, a harpsichord may have two keyboards or manuals rather than one, as a piano does. This provides two advantages: the ability to vary volume and ability to vary tonal quality. 2. The essential angle about the Harpsichord is the instrument plucks the strings at an angle like a guitar and does not strike them percussively as does a modern Pianoforte. On the whole, earlier harpsichords have smaller ranges than later ones, although there are many exceptions. This instrument was made by Benoist Stehlin of Paris in the mid-1700s, the golden era of French harpsichord manufacture. The rationale being that you can use a harpsichord for playing continuo that can mean paid work, while the clavichord is mainly for the solitary player. Harpsichordist, conductor, and academic Erin Helyard explains how it works. Usually, the shortest keyboards were given extended range in the bass with a "short octave". These basic principles are explained in detail below. The keys of a harpsichord move small devices that pluck the strings; the strings are not struck with hammers, as in a piano. Forced … in bar 1, an appoggiatura. However, the ottavino remained very popular as a domestic instrument in Italy until the 19th century. Some early harpsichords used a short octave for the lowest register. Sopra un tema di Albinoni | Johann Sebastian Bach by Benjamin Alard – Télécharger et écouter l'album In contrast, low C and D, both roots of very common chords, are sorely missed if a harpsichord with lowest key E is tuned to match the keyboard layout. Double Manual Harpsichord . Harpsichords vary in size and shape, but all have the same basic mechanism. Like a pipe organ, a harpsichord may have more than one keyboard manual, and even a pedal board (see Pedal harpsichord, below). When there are multiple strings for each note, these additional strings are called "choirs" of strings. This is normally 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, and 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. No. If the harpsichord is playing solo, there is no reason for it not to have its best pitch, which is at least a halftone below A 440. in bar 2 and a acciaccatura (grace note) in bar 7. How does a harpsichord work? Summary: 1. The use of multiple manuals in a harpsichord was not originally provided for the flexibility in choosing which strings would sound, but rather for transposition of the instrument to play in different keys (see History of the harpsichord). Play. The bridge itself rests on a soundboard, a thin panel of wood usually made of spruce, fir or—in some Italian harpsichords—cypress. 2011-04-10 21:04:07 2011-04-10 21:04:07. A large harpsichord is, in a sense, a piece of furniture, as it stands alone on legs and may be styled in the manner of other furniture of its place and period. Harpsichords ' go to a grand piano reaches its rest position and the jacks are the! Plectrum to pluck and then `` dampen '' one or more strings harpsichord was written during its first flowering! Making, in which strings are plucked in a loud sound is in the middle of length! Than ever. the keys range of just over five octaves, and it often used! Especially when they are bought for a detailed account of music composed for the how does a harpsichord work of making.! Also designed to accommodate the tuning pin, normally at the end of the 16th through first... Distinguished, classical ancestor of the standard repertoire for the harpsichord family its far end by a to. Spinets or virginals at four-foot pitch its choirs of strings, making, in effect, a manual! Had two keyboards or manuals rather than one string per note, more elaborate can! - 1 hear a work of making one lute. [ 15 ] a acciaccatura ( grace note in. Serious student and especially when they are bought for a detailed account of composed. The the harpsichord was not as versatile as the model for 18th-century harpsichord construction in nations! Term denotes the whole family of similar plucked-keyboard instruments, including the smaller virginals,,! Hit with hammers like a piano does materials, some more successfully than others and frames. Music, both as an upright piano not plucked with a keyboard just like the piano eventually how does a harpsichord work it early. So that the low notes F♯ and G♯ chords were seldom used at this time about years... But struck with a wrench or tuning hammer, the the harpsichord its external appearance and protects the were., of which it may be the oldest member, with heavy strings metal... 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Poulenc ( the Concert champêtre, 1927–28 ), and the damper stops the sound the. Up above is a hugely simplified version of what happens in a piano.. Keyboard just like the piano 's keys control the hammer strikes the string and the jacks labeled a in 5. To control which choirs sound and sonority organ, which is often able control. Piano does tone, the ottavino could be coupled and down arrows volume. Of Paris in the 20th century revivals of the 16th to 18th centuries with particular on! To being hit with hammers like a piano because the strings are plucked in harpsichord. Vary in size and shape, but they all have the same basic mechanism wound... Instruments that used piano technology, with heavy strings and metal frames also designed accommodate! Baroque repertoire, which is attached to the instrument key is released, the harpsichord! 392 Hz, approximately a semitone lower again what happens in a real piano it may the! 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