Instruments and Makers

Raymond Russell, The Harpsichord and Clavichord, Faber & Faber, London. The standard introductory work. Russell's extensive collection is now housed in St. Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh.

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan, London. The article on the harpsichord is an excellent up-to-date discussion of the subject.

Frank Hubbard, Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. A detailed study of instrument making practice over the centuries.

Donald Boalch, Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840, Oxford University Press. A thorough record of historic makers and surviving instruments, with a list of the chief collections and an extensive bibliography.

W J Zuckermann, The Modern Harpsichord: Twentieth Century Instruments and Their Makers, Peter Owen, London. An international survey.

John Paul, Modern Harpsichord Makers, Gollancz, London. Similar to Zuckermann's book, about English makers.

Harpsichord Playing

Maria Boxall, Harpsichord Method, Schott. An excellent tutor with graded pieces geared to the beginner.

Howard Schott, Playing the Harpsichord, Faber & Faber, London. Contains a lot of sound advice on practical matters and performance style.

Nicolo Pasquali, Thorough-Bass Made Easy (1763), Oxford University Press. An 18th century treatise on the figured bass, in facsimile.

C.P.E. Bach, Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (1753), Cassell, London. Very detailed treatise on mid-18th century performance practice, with sections on fingering, embellishment, thorough bass, and accompaniment.

Anthologies of Music

Howard Ferguson, Style and Interpretation, and Early Keyboard Music, both Oxford University Press. Two series of volumes which form a very useful basic collection.


Charles Padgham, The Well-Tempered Organ, Positif Press, Oxford. Gives a good explanation of tuning principles and tables for many historic temperaments, just as relevant to the harpsichord as to the organ.

M Lindley, Temperaments, New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan, London.

Instrument Making and Decorating

Malcolm Rose and David Law, A Handbook of Historical Stringing Practice for Keyboard Instruments. Available from The Workshop, English Passage, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2AP. Evidence from over 80 instruments is used to deduce how they would have been strung originally.

Peter and Ann MacTaggart, of Mac & Me, 19 Mill Lane, Welwyn, Herts AL6 9EU, have published a number of books for the amateur and professional instrument maker, some written by themselves:

Painting and Marbling Harpsichord Cases, MacTaggart. A practical manual on antique painted finishes, with particular reference to the harpsichord.

Laying and Decorating Harpsichord Papers, MacTaggart. Tells you how to lay and decorate reproduction Flemish papers. Unfortunately they have had to discontinue the production of their excellent papers.

Practical Gilding, MacTaggart. A manual on the art of oil and water gilding.

John Barnes, Making a Spinet by Traditional Methods, MacTaggart. John Barnes was for many years curator of the Russell Collection in Edinburgh. The book tells you how to make a copy of an 18th century spinet by Keene and Brackley.