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Glossary
 

Glossary

Arcade
A shaped, ornamental front part of a natural key.
Back eight-foot
The rank of jacks, plucking an 8' choir, that is farthest from the player. It will have a more flutey sound than the front eight-foot.
Balance pin
The pin that forms the fulcrum point and holds the key lever. It is driven into the balance rail.
Beat
A throbbing sound produced when two frequencies that are slightly different in pitch are sounded together. If two frequencies are one cycle per second apart there will be one beat per second.
Bentside
The curved side of a spinet or harpsichord.
Box slide
A solid register to guide the jacks perhaps two or three inches deep. Mostly found on Italian harpsichords.
Buff stop
A stop, on a harpsichord and occasionally on early pianos that gives a muted sound by touching the strings with a piece of soft leather or felt.(Buffallo skin).
Capitol
The top of the column of a harp, often decorated. The neck joins at this point.
Disposition
The capabilities of a harpsichord. i.e. the number, type and arrangements of stops.
Dogleg jack
A specially shaped jack that can be operated by either the top or bottom manual without the use of coupler. Most often used in English harpsichords.
Double Action Harp
A pedal harp, each pedal has three possible positions:off=flat, middle=natural, bottom notch=sharp.
Double harpsichord
A harpsichord with two keyboards.
Eight-foot stop
The stop which has the main or normal pitch. See 'four foot'. (An organ pipe eight foot long sounds C).
Fork
The part of a harp's action which turns to grip and shorten the effective length of the string, operated by the pedal to raise the pitch of a note.
Fortepiano
Early pianos were called 'fortepiano', 'pianoforte' and 'piano forte'. Fortepiano usually is taken to refer to period instruments of the Viennese type. They will have wooden frames, iron and brass stings, light leather covered hammers which are attached to the key levers and appear to face backwards compared to other pianos.
Four-foot stop
The stop that is pitched one octave higher than the eight-foot choir.
Front eight-foot
The rank of jacks on a harpsichord, plucking an eight-foot choir, nearest to the player. It has a more nasal sound than the back eight-foot since the plucking point is closer to the end of the string.
Hitchpin
The pin which anchors the far end of the string.
Kapsel or Kapseln
A bearing that hold the hammer of a Viennese fortepiano. Usually folded brass on a brass stem.
Lute stop
A name sometimes given to an extra rank of jacks on a harpsichord that pluck close to the nut. However the buff stop actually sounds more like a lute than this!
Manual
A keyboard
Manual coupler
A method of linking the upper and lower keyboards together at will (combining the stops which are in use). Usually the top manual shifts towards the player by about 10mm.
Nag's head swell
A pedal that can open and close a section of the lid to produce a crescendo effect.
Neck
The 'S' shaped part of a harp that carries the action and the tuning pins. It joins the pillar to the body.
Nut
The name given to the bridge that is on the wrestplank. The strings pass over it to determine one end of the sounding part of the string.
Scale
The mathematical design of the lengths(and other details) of the strings for an instrument.
Short octave
Early methods of fitting in more notes in the bass than are visibly apparent on the keyboard. A common arrangement is to tune what seems to be the lowest note BB to GG,C# sounds AA, and D# sounds BB. F# is the first chromatic. There are other methods, Vienna used a particular scheme which even divided the last natural into three, the next into two so that two keys gave five notes.
Wrestpin
Another name for a tuning pin.
Wrestplank
The strong, rigid plank of wood that holds all the tuning pins and therefore takes the total tension of the instrument.