The classical instruments that inspired the Roland Classic Series instruments were used in Europe during the middle ages, renaissance, and Baroque periods. Each instrument was handmade by master instrument makers and produced delicate, expressive tones. The classical-music movement that spread across Europe in the 20th century attracted large numbers of musicians around the world to classical instruments.
Example of a pipe organ:
Bel Air Presbyterian Church,
Los Angeles (suburb), California, USA
Pipe organs, often referred to as the "king of instruments," produces its distinct sound by pumping air through a multitude of pipes. Its origins are ancient and can be traced back, according to some accounts, to pan pipes, an instrument that appears in Greek mythology. Pan pipes were made by tying reeds together. By the 3rd century B.C., the "hydraulus" — from which the pipe organ originated — was invented. These instruments were installed in Roman amphitheaters to add excitement to competitions. Pipe organs eventually became popular as an instrument for churches. They were also used to provide music for balls hosted by aristocrats, which spread throughout Europe during the renaissance period. The use of pipe organs peaked during the 17th and 18th centuries. Their styles varied depending on period and region. Representative types of organs include the "Baroque organ," a type of organ that was used during the peak period and on which Bach composed many masterpieces, and "romantic organs" and "symphonic organs, both of which were designed in the 19th century to perform concerts. They captivated audiences with majestic sounds that rivaled orchestras.
Pipe organs — more than meets the eye. A large number of pipes, large and small, are arrayed behind its facade. Some organs have more than 30,000 pipes. A single pipe can only produce a single tone. The pipes that the organist chooses to play are selected by a stop, and are played as a combination. While there are countless types of pipe-organ tones, they can be largely categorized as below:
- Principal tones: These tones, which resonate very well, represent the standard "pipe organ" tones.
- Flute tones: These are soft and warm tones, and are produced on thicker pipes.
- String tones: These are tones that resemble string instruments, such as violins and cello, and are produced on thinner pipes.
- Reed tones: These are loud and assertive tones, and resemble trumpets and oboes.
Example of a French cembalo: F. Blanche (Paris),
1765, 61 keys x 2, 2 x 8', 1 x 4', FF-F3, coupler buff stop
The harpsichord (a.k.a. cembalo or clavecin) is a keyboard instrument that produces sound when a string is plucked. This instrument is known as the harpsichord in English, the cembalo in German and Italian, and clavecin in French. Developed in 14th- and 15th-century Europe, these instruments competed with pipe organs as the top keyboard instrument until the development of the piano in the 18th century. With their extremely delicate and beautiful tones, they blend well with other instruments. So naturally, the harpsichord was used widely for solo performances and accompaniment, as well as in ensembles. The harpsichord found itself in the limelight once again when the classical instrument movement gained momentum in the 20th century. Its popularity continues to this day. Many versions of the harpsichord were made in different regions and during different periods. These versions include French, Italian, Flemish, and Virginal. Each instrument had characteristics that were distinct from the others. Take the keyboard for example. The size and number of keys, as well as the touch were very different from each other.
Because the amplitude of acoustic harpsichord changes only very slightly whether you hit the key forcefully or gently, designers directed their efforts toward developing features that created variations in tone, such as mechanisms for plucking multiple strings in a single keystroke or softening the tone with a muting function. The C-30 comes with the following tones that are typically found in large harpsichord with 2-stepped keyboards.
- 8' I: These "back" tones are soft and thick, and constitute the basic sound.
- 8' II: These tones are produced by plucking near the end of the strings to create brighter tones with a unique character. These tones are called "front."
- 4' : These tones are an octave higher, and are used together with the 8’ tones to create colorful sounds.
- Lute: Resembling the sound of lutes, these tones are made by muting the 8’ strings with felt buffs. Lutes were the precursors to guitars.
Example of a fortepiano: John Broadwood and Sons (London), c.a. 1802, 68 keys, English action, FF-C, A=408 Hz
Fortepiano is the generic name for early pianos. The name comes from the Italian description "gravecembalo col piano e forte" or "harpsichord with soft and loud." Around the year 1700, Italian harpsichord maker Cristofori envisioned creating an instrument that could express soft and loud tones, and invented a method of producing sound by hitting the string with a hammer. Working with John Broadwood and Sons of England, his invention was released after much trial and error. While this instrument was capable of varying sound volume based on the player's touch just as with the modern piano, the new instrument produced a softer sound with less sustain. The tones differed depending on the pitch range. These variations in tone — elegant and textured bass tones, clear and glistening high tones, and mid-range tones that, according to some, resemble the human voice — enabled performances that were rich and expressive. Early fortepianos had small keyboards, typically with a range of 5 to 5-1/2 octaves. Therefore, piano pieces penned during this period by composers such as Beethoven and Mozart were written within this range. While the fortepiano fell out of favor after the development of the modern piano in the mid-19th century, this instrument regained popularity after the rise of the harpsichord in classical music during the late 20th century. Fortepiano performances are now held around the world.
* From the "European Keyboard Instruments" section of the "Illustrated Catalog of Musical Instruments" courtesy of the Hamamatsu City Museum of Musical Instruments.
* Harpsichord and fortepiano photos courtesy of the Hamamatsu City Museum of Musical Instruments.