Carl Dudash Harpsichords
P.O. Box 200 Norfolk, Connecticut 06058 (860) 542-5753
Early South German Single Manual Harpsichords
A handful of extant early South German harpsichords share a unique configuration: the rows of jacks spread apart toward the bass producing marked differences in the plucking points between registers. Examples include the 1537 Hans Muller, the 1619 Johann Mayer, and an anonymous 17th C South German single in the National Museum in Budapest. This configuration yields great contrasts in timbre between registers, resulting in a fascinating variety of musical possibilities.
We make two models of this type of flared-register single. The first is in the style of the 1619 Mayer. It is brass-strung throughout, 2 x 8', with stop knobs through the cheek as on the original. It has three registers: a deep-plucking back 8', a middle 8', and a front 8' plucking very close to the nut (Nasalzug), with a buff stop on the latter two. This arrangement produces a total of thirteen different sounds. Our second model was originally commissioned by harpsichordist and composer, Robert Edward Smith. It is a larger instrument, iron and brass strung, 2 x 8', GG - d''' chromatic, stop levers through the nameboard, and a distinctive double-miter tail. As in the first model, there are three registers working the two sets of strings. It has a powerful voice and shows no fear of large concert halls or hordes of modern string players.
"Mayer" South German Single
Styled after the 1619 Mayer, this single has two choirs of brass strings at 8' pitch and three registers: a deep-plucking 8', a middle 8', and a close-plucking 8', with a buff stop on the latter two. This arrangement produces a fascinating variety of sounds - thirteen in all - with great character and clarity. Stop knobs are through the cheek as on the original. The instrument is light weight and very easy to transport. The case is varnished and the keyboard has hard maple naturals and pearwood sharps. GG/BB - d''',transposable A415/A440, 2 x 8' plus nasalzug, buff stop. Length 75", width 31".
The fully decorated version is painted black and decorated with freehand bronze strapwork (similar to what is shown in the picture below). The soundboard is painted in an early German style and has a cut parchment rose.
Harpsichordist and composer, Robert Edward Smith, commissioned us to design a larger version of the Mayer single. To Mr. Smith's delight, this turned out to be a powerful harpsichord, easily able to hold its own in large ensembles. Its great variety of sounds also made it quite versatile. This is a long-scaled, iron and brass strung, GG - d''' chromatic instrument, with register stop levers through the nameboard. It has a distinctive, double-mitered tail, and two parchment roses, as are found on the anonymous 17th C instrument in Budapest described above. The soundboard is decorated in an early German style. The case is painted black with freehand bronze strapwork designs. The keyboard has hard maple naturals and ebony sharps. GG - d''' chromatic, transposable A415/A440, 2 x 8' plus nasalzug, buff stop. Length 84", width 33 1/2".
South German Single
This is a brass-strung, 2 x 8' harpsichord with a more conventional parallel register arrangement. The varnished case is a bit heavier in construction and somewhat shorter in length than a typical Italian. This gives it a sweeter, less brassy sound, with longer sustain. It is an excellent continuo instrument and also plays a wide variety of harpsichord literature quite nicely. The keyboard has hard maple naturals and pearwood sharps. GG/BB - d''', transposable A415/A440, 2 x 8', buff stop. Length 75", width 31".
This imposing harpsichord has great power, brilliance, and clarity, making it ideally suited for Bach. It has proven to be an exceptional concert instrument. American cherry is used for the case, frame-and-panel lid, and the handsome table stand. The soundboard is decorated in a later German style. The keyboards have grenadilla naturals and bone-topped sharps. GG - d''' chromatic, transposable A415/A440, 1 x 4', 2 x 8', buff stop. Length 92 1/2", width 34 1/2".
William Carragan, a quantum physics professor, Bruckner scholar,
harpsichordist (yes, thats a very interesting combination), asked if we could
make a two manual version of our Smith/Mayer flared-register single that went up
to e. I took the general
concept of the single, added a 4 stop, put the back 8 and 4on the lower
manual, and the middle 8 and Nasalzug on the upper.
This arrangement resulted in even deeper plucking points for the back
8 than on the Smith/Mayer. The
sound is dark and warm from the bass through the tenor, becoming round and fluty
into the treble. The 4 stop also
has unusually deep plucking points so it has more fundamental frequency than a
typical 4. The upper manual
stops provide an excellent contrast to the lowers.
The Nasalzug has a gentle bite to its sound, not harsh or jangling, so
its a very useful and appealing stop.
1 x 4, 2 x 8, plus Nasalzug and buff stop. Lower manual:
back 8 and 4.
Standard features: Soundboard paintings, cut parchment rosettes, bronze powder strapwork on case and inside of lid, trestle stand.
This instrument was exhibited at the 2003 Boston Early Music Festival where Mr. Carragan played a concert to an enthusiastic, standing-room-only audience. The second instrument of this series was commissioned by Wellesley College.