Nope, still don’t care for the harpsichord.
But I haven’t actually listened to any more since I last wrote. I had several people tell me that I should give it another try, and my children even gave me an album to change my mind, but my turntable isn’t working at the right speed. And let me tell you, running harpsichord music too slow does NOT improve its sound.
I will give it another shot, I promise.
I discovered my aversion to it by listening to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2: Prelude and Fugue in C Major. Chris and I settled in one night on the couch with a glass of wine and the Classical Music for Dummies CD. They have a section in the book that takes you step-by-step through each piece, and Chris read aloud to me as we listened.
Since I have zero musical training, I found this enormously educational and great fun. We listened to selections from Handel, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. The book explains that since the harpsichord keys aren’t touch-sensitive, the player can simulate more volume by rolling the chords — playing each note in a chord a split-second apart. I was astounded by Bach’s piece; there is great mastery of composition and playing going on here. I just didn’t like the tinny sound of the instrument. Not solo, anyway.
Counterpoint, Bach’s specialty, is far more complicated and delicious than I’d realized. Four individual parts, all voicing their own unique opinions, somehow blending together harmoniously. I understand now why people call him one of the greatest artists of all time.
Listening intently to a piece of good music is a form of meditation, an act of mindfulness. If you never listen to classical music except as background music or at your kid’s school concerts and recitals, try giving yourself 10 minutes some day to lean back, close your eyes, and really drink it in. (And turn the volume up, if you can). It’s relaxing and exhilarating all at once. It’ll renew your faith in humanity.
Even if it’s harpsichord music.