Toward a physical model of the clavichord

Jean Théo Jiolat, Christophe D'Alessandro, Jean Loïc Le Carrou, José Antunes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


String excitation by the tangent in the clavichord is a unique mechanism. The tangent, keeping in contact with the string after the initial strike, continuously controls the string tension. Four main flexible subsystems are considered in the clavichord: the tangent/key subsystem, the string subsystem, the bridge-soundboard subsystem, and the string damper subsystem. A modal description of the dynamics of these subsystems is proposed. Parameters of the subsystems are estimated on a copy of a historical instrument by Hubert (1784). The different subsystems and their couplings are modeled using a modal Udwadia-Kalaba formulation. The string-tangent interaction is modeled via the intermittent contact dynamics, using the Kirchoff-Carrier string model. Realistic string, soundboard, and tangent motions are obtained using a time-domain synthesis scheme that computes the dynamics of the uncoupled subsystems and the constraints resulting from coupling between them. Simulated motions of the model in response to a driving force on the key are analyzed. The results are consistent with experimental measurements and published data on the dynamics of the clavichord. The model is able to reproduce the main acoustic features of the instrument: force on the key for intonation control, key velocity for dynamic nuances control, and constant spectral slope for varying dynamic nuances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2350-2363
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


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