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Harpsichord

Name a piece of orchestal music that contains the harpsichord?

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November 21, 2009 5:46PM

The harpsichord has always had an important place in orchestral music. During the baroque period (c. 1600- 1750), almost all ensemble music required what was known as the basso continuo, which would involve some bass instrument, such as a cello or viol da gamba, doubled by the harpsichord (or organ, lute or guitar) playing chords from the bass line. The basso continuo could be used alone to accompany a solo instrument or singer, or in a large ensemble such as an orchestra to thicken the texture. Basically any piece from the baroque period requires basso continuo. Famous examples include any concerto by Bach or Vivaldi.

After the baroque period, the harpsichord was sometimes called for because of its unique timbre, or to call to mind the sounds of the baroque. Examples of this include Respighi's "Ancient Airs and Dances" and Poulenc's concerto for Harpsichord "Concert Champetre."