C-30

Digital Harpsichord

Q.Does the C-30's keyboard feel the same as an acoustic harpsichord's keyboard?

A.Differences in the mechanism mean that the feel is not exactly the same.

Keyboard features that strongly resemble the acoustic harpsichord:
• Key travel (stroke)
• Click feel (the sensation of strings being plucked)
• Initial weight (the resistance when a key is first pushed)
• Shape and size of the sharp (black) keys

Keyboard features that differ from the acoustic harpsichord:
• Octave pitch – same as the piano, wider range than traditional harpsichords
• Length of natural (white) keys – similar to piano and organ, longer than most traditional harpsichords
• Change in key resistance when multiple strings are plucked – with the C-30, key pressure remains the same and playing is easy regardless of how many strings are played. For each key, large acoustic harpsichords have multiple choirs of strings. When more than one string is plucked, resistance increases and playing feels heavier.
• When the key is pressed past the plucking position, the click sensation lingers a little, owing to the response of the mechanism.

No standards were agreed upon for the keys and keyboards of acoustic harpsichords. Different instruments may have keys of different form and feel. Normally, once a player gets used to a particular instrument, a different instrument feels strange and it takes practice to get accustomed to the special characteristics of the keyboard. To become an assured harpsichord player, it is necessary to become familiar with the peculiarities of a number of instruments.

The C-30 does not try to emulate the murkier aspects of the harpsichord keyboard. Putting effort into getting an authentic touch and genuine harpsichord expressiveness, Roland designed an original keyboard especially for the harpsichord. Rather than blindly copying the features that make some harpsichords difficult to play, the designers looked at things from the player's point of view and chose to enable easier phrasing and articulation. Because of this, if you come to the C-30 from the piano, you should find it much easier to play than an acoustic harpsichord. Conversely, once you get used to playing the C-30, you should not expect to be able to sit at an acoustic harpsichord and casually play with the same level of skill. After all, the feel when strings are plucked, the shorter length of the white keys, the different key width, the increased resistance when a single key press plucks two strings, and other characteristics will not be the same.

Compared with other keyboard instruments, such as piano, organ, and electric keyboard, however, the C-30 lets you practice the most important techniques of phrasing and articulation with a keyboard that very closely approximates the traditional feel of the harpsichord. After playing the C-30, playing an acoustic harpsichord will also feel much less strange than after practicing on one of the other keyboard instruments.
So, as a step on the road to playing an acoustic harpsichord, practice on the C-30 is exceptionally beneficial.

(2008/07/10)

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