The strings are plucked by a quill which rises when a key is depressed. Harpsichords vary in size and construction, but the standard two-manual instrument has two sets of strings tuned in octaves on the upper keyboard, and two or three sets on the lower keyboard. Foot pedals and couplers allow different combinations of strings to be engaged.


Harpsichord range

This is the range of the modern instrument. Historical ranges may vary.



The harpsichord is of course a standard instrument in Baroque music, and has made a comeback in the 20th Century. It is quiet, so amplification may be necssary in a large orchestral context.


The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at]