Technical Library

ACTION III: Playing a note

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Harpsichord jack playing 43K gifPlaying a note…
This simple silent web animation shows a single note being played. (Only the front 8⁠´ choir with its jacks facing you is ON and plucking.)

At rest, the jacks for the note appear in the same level position as their neighbours. When the key is depressed, the jack travels a short distance upwards, and the player feels a slight resistance as the quill bends when it contacts the string for the first time. A little more pressure on the key, and the string is flipped off the quill, the jack rising to its maximum height—limited by the jackrail in real life, although that has been removed here for visibility.

When the note is released, the jack drops down promptly by gravity, the tongue flips back instantly to allow the quill to clear the string, and the damper silences the vibrations. The jack is ready to play again immediately.

Movie thumb 3K jpeg Movie 1K gif Stagger
Carey Beebe demonstrating the timing of the pluck (“stagger”).
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