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View Full Version : harpsichord versus piano

2003-07-01, 03:41
The harpsichord was the precursor to the piano. The harpsichord plucks the strings with the same force no matter how hard the keys are hit. The piano hits rather than plucks, and allows one to hit the notes with varying force, along with additional options. The piano was considered to do everything the harpsichord does, so it was considered a replacement. The music of composers like Bach, who wrote for the harpsichord, are played mainly on piano now.

My problem with the piano is that it doesn't sound as good as the harpsichord. I think it was a mistake to try to phase out the harpsichord in favor of the more expressive piano. I wonder if this need for expressiveness was a way to please the vanity of the players. The player has less of a role while playing the harpsichord than while playing the piano. Glenn Gould is thought by many to be a genius, with his idiotic mumblings that he made while recording Bach on the piano. This type of vanity is exactly what I don't want to hear when listening to Bach. I want to hear what Bach wrote, and not to have the personality of the player be evident. For this very reason, some players probably prefer the piano, because it is an outlet for their vanity.

There is not much piano music that I like. It sounds like background music to me. It must be the softness of the sounds which cause me not to focus on the notes. Though one musician I do like, who wrote for piano, is Debussy. I wonder if I would like even more classical music pieces if they were transcribed from piano to harpsichord.

Here are two versions of the same song by Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, BWV 846. The first version is piano, which is more common, and the second is harpsichord, which is more historically accurate.
piano Prelude (http://napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/Well Tempered Clavier - Book I - 01 - piano Prelude No. 1 In C Major, BWV 846 (Glenn Gould).mp3) 3 MB
piano Fugue (http://napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/Well Tempered Clavier - Book I - 02 - piano Fugue No. 1 In C Major, BWV 846 (Glenn Gould).mp3) 3 MB
harpsichord Prelude & Fugue (http://napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/J. S. Bach - the well-tempered clavier, book I - harpsichord Prelude and Fugue I in C Major (A=415hz), BWV 846.mp3) 7 MB

Which instrument do you like the sound of better?

2003-07-01, 22:14
Can't believe I'm posting in a harpsichord thread. That's got to be borderline gay. :sad: I like the harpsichord better...it sounded mellifluous whereas the piano sounded flat and dull. Unless this was a trick on your part designed to somehow hijack the Winamp.com domain. :eek:

2003-07-02, 02:44
That recording of the piano was pretty bad. Even though it's a 128 kbps mp3, it sounds like 64 kbps that was inflated. I'm looking to download a better quality version, and then I'll post it here when I get it.

I like that, the idea of hijacking Winamp. :jihad: And yes, napho, it's about time you recognized your gayness. It's a sign of sophistication and maturity to appreciate the same sex. I sometimes imagine sitting next to you on a bench while the two of us are nude, playing the piano together as I sing softly into your ear with my arms around your shoulder as I caress your nipples. I've never seen your picture but I figure you probably look like Paul Simon, and that's the type of guy I would like to bitch slap around.


2003-07-02, 18:02
I found a better quality version of the piano version of the song. It is the same recording as the one I originally posted, with the idiot-savant-prodigy Glenn Gould playing. I think if you listen closely in the beginning of the Prelude, you can hear him muttering or humming the tune as he plays it.

By the way, napho, I just discovered that Glenn Gould was born in Toronto.

lol, I found a funny site (http://www.unpronounceable.com/gould/) that advertises a special "Glenn Gould De-Vocalizer":
Most vocal removing processors simply aren't designed to handle the frequencies in Glenn Gould's vocals. The GG-DV2000 Glenn Gould De-Vocalizer 2000 is optimized to remove only the humming and singing of Glenn Gould and leave the piano sound intact. No special CD's are needed. Just try that with any old vocal processor!

Now you can listen to Glenn Gould recordings without the extraneous humming and singing OR add your own with the included microphone. Great for dinner parties!!!

Order your GG-DV2000 now for the introductory price of $4999.95 and we'll throw in the bodily function noise module at no extra charge. This module effectively removes breathing, coughing, knuckle cracking, and farts from most live performances. No other vocal processor on the market can make that claim.

2003-07-04, 07:36
I did some searches for the song "Ave Maria" and found a few that were using the theme from "The Well-Tempered Clavier". I at first thought the songs must have been misnamed, but then I heard the lyrics, which had "Ave Maria" in it. It is latin for "Hail Mary", which Catholics say a lot.

It took me a while to figure out that there are two separate well-known Ave Marias. The first one was made by Franz Schubert in 1825. The lyrics he used were a German translation by Adam Storck of Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake". Those lyrics can be found on this page (http://classicalmus.hispeed.com/articles/schubert.html).

The second Ave Maria was made by Charles Gounod in 1859. He simply took Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier piece (BWV 846) and added the lyrics of the latin Hail Mary.

Furthering the confusion, is the fact that popular variations of Schubert's Ave Maria use the latin version of Hail Mary instead of the German version of "The Lady of the Lake", as Schubert intended it. The German goes better with the tempo of the song.

Here are the two Ave Marias. The first is the one by Schubert. It is not a variation but is basically how he wrote it, with a piano and a vocalist singing in German. The second one is based on the one developed by Gounod.
Schubert (http://napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/Schubert - Ave Maria - Maria Callas (D 839).mp3) 6 MB
Gounod (http://napsterite.org/eclectica/mp3/Bach & Gounod - Ave Maria - Sarah Brightman.mp3) 5 MB