Clavichord for Beginners

Clavichord for Beginners

Joan Benson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/25/2014
Format: Paperback 19 b&w illus., 77 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01158-9
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Written by Joan Benson, one of the champions of clavichord performance in the 20th century, Clavichord for Beginners is an exceptional method book for both practitioners and enthusiasts. In addition to detailing the historical origins of the instrument and the evolution of keyboard technique, the book describes the proper method for practicing fingering and articulation and emphasizes the importance of touch and sensitivity at the keyboard. A CD featuring Benson in performance and a DVD of interviews and lessons accompany the book, illustrating important exercises for the beginner. The discs also include discussions on topics that range from 16th-century keyboard masters to the frontiers of electronic music research.

Author Bio

Joan Benson has performed throughout the world, garnering respect of classical music enthusiasts and major contemporary composers. Her advocacy of modern Western music led her to Olivier Messiaen’s class at the Paris Conservatoire, to the University of Utrecht Institute of Sonology, and to Stanford’s Center for computer Research in Music and Acoustics. She has taught on the faculty at Stanford University, the University of Oregon, and the Aston Magna Academy in Massachusetts.


“Ms. Benson provides an extremely methodical primer for beginning clavichordists, starting with the easiest fingerings and progressing to the most difficult. She invites us to delight ourselves with the tactile elements of playing and truly makes the touches come to life on the printed page.”
 — Carole Terry, performer and pedagogue

“Clavichord for Beginners is the product of lifelong dedication and research by the world’s leading expert on clavichord playing and teaching. This amazing book offers a wealth of information not only for beginners, but also for experienced music lovers. Compared to the revival of other historical keyboard instruments in the past century, the clavichord has suffered a Cinderella fate. May this book contribute to the recognition of this soulful instrument as a worthy princess!”
 — Paul Badura-Skoda, pianist of worldwide reputation

“If pianists learned to play on the clavichord, they would be much more careful with the kind of sound they produce on the modern piano. The clavichord is my best teacher because it makes me listen very carefully. The sound is so delicate and the touch so sensitive, it shows all my shortcomings immediately. The clavichord also helps me play Bach without the sustaining pedal of the modern piano. I would make clavichord practice compulsory for all pianists.”
 — András Schiff, Grammy award-winning classical pianist and recipient of the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize

“Beginners, and keyboard players from other disciplines, will profit immensely from Benson's detailed analysis of clavichord touch; the dynamic variation in her own playing, particularly her enviable pianissimos, is the best advertisement for it. The publication as a whole should appeal to a much wider public, however, as a visual and audio document of a notable twentieth-century pioneer of the clavichord revival.60 October 2014”
 — British Clavichord Society Newsletter

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Table of Contents

1. Clavichord for all Keyboardists
What is a Clavichord?
Clavichord for Keyboard Beginners
For Harpsichordists
For Players of Early Piano
For Modern Pianists
For Organists
For Singing Clavichordists
A Personal Note for Aspiring Clavichordists
2. Preparing to Play
Ways of Relaxing
Touch Awareness
Finger Awareness, Seated
Finger Interaction, Seated
Exercise For Finger Independence
Exercise For Flexible Wrists
Getting to Know Your Clavichord
Position at the Keyboard
Control of Tone and Pitch
3. Clavichord Lessons Series I
Lesson One: Lowering a Key Soundlessly
Lesson Two: Making a Sound
Lesson Three: Playing Two Notes in a Row
Lesson Four: Including a Raised Key
Lesson Five: Bach’s Cantabile Touch
Lesson Six: Producing a Cantabile (Singing) Sound
Lesson Seven: Cantabile with Fingers 4 and 5
Lesson Eight: Cantabile With the Thumb
Lesson Nine: Cantabile on two Successive Notes
Lesson Ten: Playing Five Notes in a Row
Lesson Eleven: Timing
Lesson Twelve: Five Finger Exercise
4. Clavichord Lessons, Series II
Lesson One: Degrees of Softness
Lesson Two: Degrees of Loudness
Lesson Three: Crescendo and Diminuendo on Five Notes
Lesson Four: Contrast in Dynamics, Two Hands
Lesson Five: Articulation on Single Notes
Lesson Six: Articulation on Two Notes
Lesson Seven: Leaping with one Finger
Lesson Eight: Playing Intervals
Lesson Nine: For a Flexible Thumb
Lesson Ten: The Makings of a Scale
5. Preparing for Pieces
6. Eleven Easy Pieces
7. Exploring the Past: 15th Through 17th Centuries
8. Exploring the Past: Eighteenth-Century Germany
9. Exploring the Present and Future
Selected Bibliography
Extended bibliography
About the Author

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