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Dr. Bradley Lehman

Dayton, Virginia --
(A.Mus.D., harpsichord, University of Michigan, 1994)

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What's a clavichord?

The clavichord is the simplest keyboard instrument, and was invented in the 13th or 14th century. The key is a lever directly pressing a metal "tangent" against the string. This gives the player immediate and constant contact with the string during a note: the player's touch can control the tone quality, volume, and pitch (even a vibrato!) of every note. The expressive range is from gentle delicacy to fiery abruptness.

The clavichord is an especially quiet instrument, producing barely a whisper of sound. Its most popular use historically has been as a home instrument, especially useful for practice by organists and harpsichordists.

An entertaining article about clavichords is here.

The clavichord used in this recording:

Carl Fudge clavichord after Hubert

Carl Fudge clavichord after Hubert

Listening stations

Most of my clavichord selections are also available on listening stations for free audition. Simply click on any of these links to go there, and play the music as streaming audio while you work! Unfortunately, these links do not work anymore, since and Ematic have become unavailable. Sorry! These stations support my work, too: I get a few cents from advertisers every time someone listens to something of mine. So, please visit frequently and listen often!

A suite of Bartok miniatures

The following selections are also intended for "The Domesticated Clavichord," but is currently unable to host anything by Bartok. Click on any of these to download it...they are hosted elsewhere: Unfortunately, these links do not work anymore, since and Ematic have become unavailable. Sorry!

For Children, II: Slovak Melodies - Bela Bartok's transparent settings of popular Slovak folksongs are extremely well crafted. I have assembled a suite of ten pieces from the collection:

Bartok suggested in the preface to his Mikrokosmos that some of those pieces are well suited to the harpsichord, so I have taken his music to the clavichord as well. Bartok's lyricism and rhythmic inventiveness suit the clavichord perfectly.

Also not currently included on the CD's, but intended as part of the collection:

Sultry - Jazz guitarist Joe Pass improvised this piece in 1977 as part of his Virtuoso #3 solo album. Most of the Virtuoso #3 music transfers wonderfully to the clavichord without alteration of any notes, and this piece is no exception. However, I have chosen to play Sultry considerably more slowly to explore an especially "laid-back" and gentle mood. Pass himself was familiar with the clavichord from his work with Oscar Peterson. (6'41", 6276K)

Some other tidbits

The following selections are probably not for inclusion in "The Domesticated Clavichord," but you may enjoy listening to them anyway. These were all unique recordings (only one take). I just dashed them off for fun, to hear what they sound like on clavichord, but not wanting to spend a lot of session time on them. They were also a nice way to relax with a change of pace during the recording sessions.

Piano Piece, Op. 19 #2 - This tiny piece from Schoenberg's Op. 19 is mostly silence: staccato thirds interacting with melodic fragments. Its particularly sparse texture matches the clavichord's delicacy. I think it's a beautiful piece, and it really "grows on me" more each time I hear it. (1'02", 984K)

You Must Believe In Spring - This wistful Michel Legrand tune is the title piece for one of the last and most intimate Bill Evans albums. I have constructed a shortened solo version, keeping Evans' introduction and coda but omitting the intervening bass and piano solos. [Complete version]

A Rainy Night in Rio - This lively little tune by Arthur Schwartz is probably familiar to anyone who has watched Bugs Bunny cartoons. In "Long-Haired Hare" Bugs sings this song with his banjo, tormenting his neighbor (Giovanni Jones). The song is originally from the other side of the Warner Brothers studio lot: the 1946 film "The Time, the Place, and the Girl." [Complete version]

Frosted Toaster Pastry and Fugue - An experimental Dada piece I have written. [Complete version]

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All recordings and text ©Bradley Lehman, 2000