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Analysis of the Design and Performance of Harpsichords

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The mechanical and acoustic behaviour of a plucked string coupled to a soundboard is investigated in relation to the principles underlying harpsichord design. Radiated sound energy, acoustic spectrum and sound decay time are all considered in relation to string length, wire gauge and soundboard properties, and simple scaling rules giving satisfactory musical balance are derived. These ab initio design principles are related to a typical harpsichord and found to be in general accord with building practice.

The measured musical properties, which show a nearly constant sound pressure level over the whole compass, increased harmonic development in the bass, and a decay time varying closely as the inverse 0.4 power of fundamental frequency, are close to what is expected from the analysis.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 1977

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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