Good from Bad

Harpsichords are awful.

Tired of getting the same few compositions on different CD’s, I bought a box set of the complete J.S. Bach.   He’s one of the greatest composers ever, one of my favorites, and it’s great to have a recording of everything (that survives) of his music.  Trouble is, the producers chose recordings with the original arrangements, which for Bach working so long ago, includes a lot of harpsichords.  (Listen to some examples in the wiki, down on the right side.)

And Harpsichords are awful, with an anemic, plinky, muffled sound.  Many modern musicians choose to play Bach compositions on piano, which provides such a robust and versatile sound.  Purity of notes meets precise control over volume.  Music worth cranking up and immersing myself in.   Does the piano played by an expert bring the greatest sound to the composition?  Or does the music composed by an expert bring the greatest sound to the instrument?

Here’s the thing, though.  If the harpsichords (there were several variations and improvements) hadn’t been invented, no one could have improved on them to make clavichords.  From there, no one could have improved those to make the first pianos.  So people had to get through harpsichords to get to something better…  good from bad.   Sometimes we’re even the people who make it better.  Perhaps that can be music for your ears.  (Here’s the Well-Tempered Clavier played on piano.)

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