17th French harpsichord restoration

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Dear Alain,

Congratulations for this amazing work and the remarkable report, which I have just gone through and intend to read more thoroughly later.

The instrument witnesses a not that uncommon historical occurence, in historical harpsichords (or tunings, or playing techniques) of features that appear to be either uncommon or typical of a different national school.

I saw no mention of a coupling action, but a picture clearly shows that the keyboards slide with respect to one another and coupling dogs are clearly visible. I could not find either whether the upper manual plays the front 8’ or the 4’, but given that the 4’ jack row is located between the two 8’ rows, unless strange devices are inserted, it is apparent that the upper manual plays the front 8’ row.

I am particularly interested in the list of presumed (if you have been able to reconstruct or if you believe they could differ from the final restored status) long 8’ choir vibrating lengths, and the stringing list: from these values it is possible to calculate tensions of each string (total pull in kg and material stress in kg/mm2). Such a calculation would yield very useful results. This is because, as you know very well, a lot is known about string tension curves in historical Taskin instruments, and from earlier French instruments and documents we have also some less accurate curves from early 18th century: however, I am not aware of anything like this for French 17th century instruments. It would be very useful to know.

Should you be able to provide these string lengths and stringing list, I for one would be very grateful, thanks!

Dear, Claudio,

The original string lengths and string gauge numbers are given in Annex 1.
The coupler is mentioned page 11, probably originally without coupler, probably installed few time after maybe by the maker himself .
II did not change anything at all to the string lengths, the only new elements are the bottom, the second keyboard II, 14 missing keys on the large keyboard I, and 2 butting arches and a square and a strut in the register pit.
I will soon publish a very detailed study on this instrument, Baillon/desruisseaux, the harpsichord signed Desruisseaux (E.979.2.3, Musée de la musique Paris) and the anonymous Lyonnais (E.996.33.1, Musée de la musique Paris).I will give in this study all the tables of measurements, lengths, diameters, materials, pinch points etc… as well as details on string tensions.

Next publication : French harpsichords around 1650, with the complete study of the harpsichord by Jean Denis 1648 and the harpsichord CLF c. 1650/55.next publication: French harpsichords around 1650, with the complete study of the harpsichord by Jean Denis 1648 and the harpsichord CLF c. 1650/55.

Best regards

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Dar Alain Anselm

Thank you fort he fine article

I have a copy of the Vaudry, so I am very interested

Johan Brouwer


Thanks Alain, very kind of you ! I will wait to read your next publication!

Dear Johan,

Thanks very much, for your message, beautiful instrument ! Who is the maker , Owen ? I see the disposition with short octave with double broken sharps.
I have seen the original model for the first time, in his Château de Savigny les Beaune… something like… 51 years ago !

These next days I will post an article with a lot of pictures about the construction (17 years after the instrument was built) of a transposition device for a 17th century French harpsichord with 2 keyboards with a short octave (sol/si), and the 2 first broken sharps.

The title is: Between historicism and pragmatism in harpsichord making.
Adaptation of a transposition device on a harpsichord with short octave with double broken sharps

Currently only in French, I still have to perfect the translation…


Dear Alain

David Rubio built my Vaudry and Ann Mactaggert did the sounboard painting and the Chnoisserie

I look forward to your next article


Dear Alain,
Thank you for sharing the documentation of your work on such an interesting instrument. Is this one included in the list in Musique-Images-Instruments no.2 (1996)?
I’ve always been intrigued by that quint virginals too.
Looking forward to your upcoming publications!
Kind regards,

Dear Miles,

Yes, this harpsichord was already listed in 1996, No. 33.
But the CLF c.1650/55 harpsichord was not there, I only discovered it 2 years later.
I will put online soon the detailed study and restoration report of this exceptional instrument.
The use of spinets and harpsichords transposed in France in the 17th century would need to be studied more closely. The interest of this spinet that I attributed to Pierre Baillon is that for once we have an instrument that corresponds to those described in the Baillon inventory after death.
The spinet Louis Denis 1664 (E.990.9.1, MM Paris) is certainly also a transposed instrument.
I don’t have your email address anymore, can you join me off list (alain.anselm@orange.fr)
best regards


How does the sound of your copy compare with that of the restored original?