Ruckers Family Virginals and Harpsicords

The Ruckers family of Antwerp were active from the mid-1500s through the 1600s and are considered the "Stradivarius" of harpsichord and virginal makers. Their output was as much works of art as it was exquisite musical instruments.

Most know the harpsichord preceded the piano, but have you scene this variant of them?

The “virginals” were smaller pieces, designed to fix its strings parallel to the keyboard, as to fit in a (relatively) small rectangular box. Designed (often ornately) to fit into a small space, the virginals usually were built without legs – the idea being that you’d pull the instrument out of storage and place it on a table to play.

Much the same idea as electronic keyboards in our own day and age.

Although I’d say I’ve never seen a Casio keyboard so exquisitely decorated!

Take note of the two keyboards: “Double virginals consist of a large instrument (called the mother), with its keyboard placed off-center, and a small virginal (the child), tuned an octave above that of the large instrument and stored in the space next to its keyboard. Either instrument may be played by itself, or the small virginal may be removed from its space and placed on top of the larger one. When this is done, the keys of the child are activated when those of the mother are played, thereby causing both instruments to sound at once, in octaves.”

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