A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick and is a separate tool held in the player's hand. In harpsichords, the plectra are attached to the jack mechanism.
A plectrum for electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass guitars and mandolins is typically a thin piece of plastic or other material shaped like a pointed teardrop or triangle. The size, shape and width may vary considerably. Banjo and guitar players may wear a metal or plastic thumb pick mounted on a ring, and bluegrass banjo players often wear metal or plastic fingerpicks on their fingertips. Guitarists also use fingerpicks.
Guitar picks are made of a variety of materials, including celluloid, metal, and rarely other exotic materials such as turtle shell, but today delrin is the most common [ citation needed ]. For other instruments in the modern day most players use plastic plectra but a variety of other materials, including wood and felt (for use with the ukulele) are common. Guitarists in the rock, blues, jazz and bluegrass genres tend to use a plectrum, partly because the use of steel strings tends to wear out the fingernails quickly, and also because a plectrum provides a more "focused" and "aggressive" sound. Many guitarists also use the pick and the remaining right-hand fingers simultaneously to combine some advantages of flat-picking and finger picking. This technique is called hybrid picking .
A plectrum of the guitar type is often called a pick (or a flatpick to distinguish it from fingerpicks).
The plectra for the Japanese biwa and shamisen can be quite large, and those used for the Arabic oud are longer and narrower, replacing the formerly used eagle feather. Plectra used for Chinese instruments such as the sanxian were formerly made of animal horn, though many players today use plastic plectra.
In a harpsichord, there is a separate plectrum for each string. These plectra are very small, often only about 10 millimeters long, about 1.5 millimeters wide, and half a millimeter thick. The plectrum is gently tapered, being narrowest at the plucking end. The top surface of the plectrum is flat and horizontal and is held in the tongue of the jack, which permits it to pluck moving upward and pass almost silently past the string moving downward.
In the historical period of harpsichord construction (up to about 1800) plectra were made of sturdy feather quills, usually from crows or ravens. In Italy, some makers (including Bartolomeo Cristofori) used vulture quills.Other Italian harpsichords employed plectra of leather. In late French harpsichords by the great builder Pascal Taskin, peau de buffle, a chamois-like material from the hide of the European bison, was used for plectra to produce a delicate pianissimo.
Modern harpsichords frequently employ plectra made with plastic, specifically the plastic known as acetal. Some plectra are of the homopolymer variety of acetal, sold by DuPont under the name "Delrin", while others are of the copolymer variety, sold by Ticona as "Celcon".Harpsichord technicians and builders generally use the trade names to refer to these materials. In either of its varieties, acetal is far more durable than quill, which cuts down substantially on the time that must be spent in voicing (see below).
Several contemporary builders and playershave reasserted the superiority of bird quill for high-level harpsichords. While the difference in sound between acetal and quill is acknowledged to be small, what difference may exist is held to be to the advantage of quill. In addition, quill plectra are observed to fail gradually, giving warning by the diminishing volume, whereas acetal plectra fail suddenly and completely, sometimes in the middle of a performance.
The plectra of a harpsichord must be cut precisely, in a process called "voicing". A properly voiced plectrum will pluck the string in a way that produces a good musical tone and matches well in loudness with all of the other strings. The underside of the plectrum must be appropriately slanted and entirely smooth, so that the jack will not "hang" (get caught on the string) when, after sounding a note, it is moved back down below the level of the string.
Normally, voicing is carried out by inserting the plectrum into the jack, then placing the jack on a small wooden voicing block, so that the top of the plectrum sits flush with the block. The plectrum is then cut and thinned on the underside with a small, very sharp knife, such as an X-Acto knife.As the plectrum is progressively trimmed, its jack is replaced in the instrument at intervals to test the result for loudness, tone quality, and the possibility of hanging.
Voicing is a refined skill, carried out fluently by professional builders, but one that usually must also be learned (at least to some degree) by harpsichord owners.
First attested in English 15th century,the word "plectrum" comes from Latin plectrum, itself derived from Greek πλῆκτρον (plēktron), "anything to strike with, an instrument for striking the lyre, a spear point".
"Plectrum" has both a Latin-based plural, plectra and a native English plural, plectrums. Plectra is used in formal writing, particularly in discussing the harpsichord as an instrument of classical music,while plectrums is more common in ordinary speech.
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. This activates a row of levers that turn a trigger mechanism that plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum made from quill or plastic. The strings are under tension on a soundboard, which is mounted in a wooden case; the soundboard amplifies the vibrations from the strings so that the listeners can hear it. Like a pipe organ, a harpsichord may have more than one keyboard manual, and even a pedal board. Harpsichords may also have stop buttons which add or remove additional octaves. Some harpsichords may have a lute stop, which brings a strip of buff leather or other material in contact with the strings, muting their sound to simulate the sound of a plucked lute.
String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.
A guitar pick is a plectrum used for guitars. Picks are generally made of one uniform material—such as some kind of plastic, rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, tagua, or stone. They are often shaped in an acute isosceles triangle with the two equal corners rounded and the third corner less rounded. They are used to strum chords or to sound individual notes on a guitar.
The virginals is a keyboard instrument of the harpsichord family. It was popular in Europe during the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.
The biwa (琵琶) is a Japanese short necked lute, often used in narrative storytelling. The biwa is the chosen instrument of Benten, goddess of music, eloquence, poetry, and education in Japanese Buddhism. The biwa is a plucked string instrument that was first popular in China and then spread throughout East Asia. It is said to have arrived in Japan from China during the Nara period (710–794), and is even thought to have roots that trace back to Central Asia. It is generally 60 centimetres (24 in) to 106 centimetres (42 in) in length and made from wood. The instrument consists of a water drop shaped body with a handle, and while there are generally four strings, five stringed varieties also exist. In Japan, the biwa is generally plucked with a bachi instead of the fingers, and is often used to play gagaku. In addition, it is used as musical accompaniment when blind monks recite scriptural texts, or when reciting The Tale of theHeike, a war chronicle from the Kamakura period (1185–1333).
A fingerpick or thumbpick is a type of plectrum used most commonly for playing bluegrass style banjo music. Most fingerpicks are composed of metal or plastic. Unlike flat guitar picks, which are held between the thumb and finger and used one at a time, fingerpicks clip onto or wrap around the end of the fingers and thumb; thus one hand can pick several strings at once. Generally three are used: one for the thumb, and one each for the middle and index fingers. Fingerpicks worn on the thumb are generally called "thumbpicks". Most players use a plastic thumbpick while using metal fingerpicks. Fingerpicks come in a variety of thicknesses to accommodate different musicians' styles of playing. Thin picks produce a quieter, more delicate sound, while thick picks produce a heavier sound. But as with standard plectrums, thumbpicks come in different styles and employ different materials.
Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.
A mezrāb or mizrab, also known as a zakhmeh or is a plectrum which is used for several Iranian and Indian string instruments.
A clavicytherium is a harpsichord in which the soundboard and strings are mounted vertically facing the player. The primary purpose of making a harpsichord vertical is the same as in the later upright piano, namely to save floor space. In a clavicytherium, the jacks move horizontally without the assistance of gravity, so that clavicytherium actions are more complex than those of other harpsichords.
The sanxian is a Chinese lute—a three-stringed fretless plucked musical instrument. It has a long fingerboard, and the body is traditionally made from snake skin stretched over a rounded rectangular resonator. It is made in several sizes for different purposes and in the late 20th century a four-stringed version was also developed. The northern sanxian is generally larger, at about 122 cm (48 in) in length, while southern versions of the instrument are usually about 95 cm (37 in) in length.
Hybrid picking is a guitar-playing technique that involves picking with a pick (plectrum) and one or more fingers alternately or simultaneously. Hybrid picking allows guitar players who use a pick to perform music which would normally require fingerstyle playing. It also facilitates wide string leaps which might otherwise be quite difficult. The technique is not widespread in most genres of guitar playing, but is most often employed in "chicken pickin'"; rockabilly, country, honky-tonk, and bluegrass flatpicking styles who play music which occasionally demands fingerstyle passages.
Hybrid picking involves playing with the pick and the right hand m and/or a fingers...at the same time. The pick is held in the usual way...and the fingers execute free strokes in the typical fingerstyle manner...Hybrid picking allows fingerstyle-like passages to be freely interspersed with flatpicked passages...without any delay.
Wolfgang Joachim Zuckermann was a German-born American harpsichord maker and writer. He was known for inventing a highly popular kit for constructing new instruments and wrote an influential book, The Modern Harpsichord. As a social activist, he authored books including The Mews of London and The End of the Road.
Flatpicking is the technique of striking the strings of a guitar with a pick held between the thumb and one or two fingers. It can be contrasted to fingerstyle guitar, which is playing with individual fingers, with or without wearing fingerpicks. While the use of a plectrum is common in many musical traditions, the exact term "flatpicking" is most commonly associated with Appalachian music of the American southeastern highlands, especially bluegrass music, where string bands often feature musicians playing a variety of styles, both fingerpicking and flatpicking. Musicians who use a flat pick in other genres such as rock and jazz are not commonly described as flatpickers or even plectrum guitarists. As the use of a pick in those traditions is commonplace, generally only guitarists who play without a pick are noted by the term "fingerpicking" or "fingerstyle".
The oval spinet is a type of harpsichord invented in the late 17th century by Bartolomeo Cristofori, the Italian instrument maker who later achieved fame for inventing the piano. The oval spinet was unusual for its shape, the arrangement of its strings, and for its mechanism for changing registration.
The harpsichord was an important keyboard instrument in Europe from the 15th through the 18th centuries, and as revived in the 20th, is widely played today. This article gives a history of the harpsichord; for information on the construction of this instrument, its variant forms, and the music composed for it, see harpsichord.
Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:
Alastair McAllister is an Australian harpsichord builder known for his historical integrity, design and workmanship, and for producing modern copies of instruments that closely match their prototypes in sound and touch. At the age of 15, he became inspired by the Baroque after hearing the music of Domenico Scarlatti. Working closely with his colleague, Mars McMillan, he founded Harpsichord Makers of Melbourne in 1967, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill, and by the early 1970s he had become a full-time harpsichord builder. McAllister and his colleagues have created instruments patterned after the work of Henri Hemsch, Burkhardt Schudi, Johannes Daniel Dulcken, the Ruckers family, Christian Zell and Johann Heinrich Harrass, among others, and he has trained or influenced Australian builders such as Marc Nobel, Andrew Bernard, Alan Todd, Jean-Louis Cocquillat, and Richard Schaumloeffel.
The heike shamisen, is a Japanese musical instrument, member of the shamisen family. Like its other counterparts, the heike shamisen has three strings, a slender neck, a body taut with skin, and it is plucked with a plectrum called a bachi.
In traditional Japanese music, sawari is the name of a buzzy sound quality, or timbre, that is often found in and/or expected of certain traditional stringed instruments.
(Franz Hermann) Martin Skowroneck was a German harpsichord builder, one of the pioneers of the modern movement of harpsichord construction on historical principles.
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