The Clavisimbalum or Clavicymbalum, drawn and described by Henri Arnaut de Zwolle in his manuscript of c1440, could be described as an ‘early' early keyboard instrument. It has a series of mechanisms quite different to the jacks and registers that we are familiar with today. The manuscript, which is amongst the earliest known records of what may be termed a harpsichord, shows five, "devices for attacking the strings". However in his description of the instrument Arnaut is clearly talking about the first mechanism, "the first and best" as he
says. For my reconstruction I have used the mechanism that Arnaut apparently favoured. The Clavisimbalum has a compass of 35 notes chromatic from B - a" and is strung with brass and iron un-damped. It has a clear voice, crisp and bright with plenty of volume. The sound has been likened by one observer to the clarsach, an early type of harp.
There is iconographical evidence to suggest that these instruments were also fitted with the more recogisable type of jack mechanism and this can be provide if prefered.
The Clavisimbalum is available in a natural finish or may be embellished with pierced roses and painted decoration.
Dimensions: Length 920mm, Width 555mm, Height 147mm.