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Did you know? The Royal College of Music Museum has a collection of over 14,000 items

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 - 10:30

The Royal College of Music (RCM) Museum is home to some of the greatest and most interesting music history. With a collection of over 14,000 items, it houses a fantastic range of musical objects and exhibitions. One hidden treasure in particular is the clavicytherium, one of the earliest known string-keyboard instruments.

The clavicytherium is a rare and fascinating type of early keyboard instrument, essentially a vertical harpsichord. Originating in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance period, its design features the strings and soundboard positioned upright, unlike the horizontal layout of the traditional harpsichord. This vertical arrangement allows the sound to project more directly into the room, offering a distinctive tonal quality.

The clavicytherium's mechanism includes a keyboard and a series of jacks that pluck the strings when keys are pressed. It represents a significant step in the evolution of keyboard instruments, bridging the gap between the harpsichord and later developments like the fortepiano and the modern piano. Due to its complexity and the advent of more practical designs, the clavicytherium remained relatively rare, but it holds a unique place in the history of music and instrument craftsmanship.

The RCM Museum can be hired for several events. Host an intimate dinner surrounded by such fascinating musical items, or hold a celebratory reception split across the two floors packed with music history. Upgrade your event by adding on a bespoke tour by one of their expert team.