Latest Harpsichord finished - at last

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ErnieM

Ernie
Corporate Member
Many years ago I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and was able to see the original 1736 Hemsch double manual harpsichord on display. Since then, I've always wanted to build it, and when I turned 70 (a year and a half ago - ugh!) I decided I'd better do it while I was still able to physically work on such a large instrument (93 11/16" x 37 15/32"). I started working on it and got 2/3 of the way through when I got a couple of commissions and had to stop working on the Hemsch to build them. I finished the second commission in May and resumed working on the Hemsch. This week, I finally finished it. It was challenging, but a lot of fun nonetheless. For me, the most difficult part was the Louis XV cabriole stand. The aprons at the top of the stand flair out at 5 degrees to better match the curve of the legs. The stand alone took five weeks to build, but well worth the time.

Thanks for looking.
Ernie

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Phil S

Board of Directors, President
Phil Soper
Staff member
Corporate Member
WOW and I bet it sounds as great as it looks. Ernie, excellent work - keep it going
 

JackLeg

Reggie
Corporate Member
Very impressive, Ernie! So far beyond my skill level I can't comprehend it!

:notworthy:
 

Charlie

Charlie
Corporate Member
Fantastic. Ernie, you are a true master of the harpsichord.

To others: I have seen some of Ernie's harpsichords in person. There are no words to describe the craftsmanship and details involved in building these. Ernie is a true artist.
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Another absolute masterpiece, Ernie. Since you built this one for yourself, are you keeping it, or will it eventually be sold?
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
Another work of art. Truly beautiful.

Like Charlie stated you really should see some of Ernie's work in person to truly appreciate it. I'm so glad I got to tour his shop a while back. They sound as good as they look. His house is full of miniatures of the full size pieces he has built.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
I am musically challenged, Ernie. Hopefully, one of these days I will get out East to meet you and see some of your work rather than the photos. Beautiful craftsmanship from what I can see.
 

RandyJ

Randy
Corporate Member
That isn't woodworking. It is a work of art! Great job, Ernie. Beautiful craftsmanship.
 

ErnieM

Ernie
Corporate Member
Thanks for all the nice words, guys. I'm still not sure if we will keep it or sell it. It's a little like the guys who have elaborate model train layouts - the real fun is in the building. Once built, I'd rather move on to the next one rather than play this one - especially the way I play.
 

JohnW

John
Corporate Member
Ernie,
I'm trying to view your shop pics but there is a big piano in the way...

So thankful you always take the time to share your works of art with us. Jaw dropping as usual.
And I'm impressed with how CLEAN your shop is?
 

ErnieM

Ernie
Corporate Member
Ernie,
I'm trying to view your shop pics but there is a big piano in the way...

So thankful you always take the time to share your works of art with us. Jaw dropping as usual.
And I'm impressed with how CLEAN your shop is?
Clean, huh! You should see the half of the shop that's out of camera range.:gar-Bi
 

CDPeters

Master of None
Chris
Like Charlie stated you really should see some of Ernie's work in person to truly appreciate it. I'm so glad I got to tour his shop a while back. They sound as good as they look. His house is full of miniatures of the full size pieces he has built.
I am amazed - AGAIN! Another work of art Ernie.

Dang - and to think I was through Choco last week on an inspection in Morehead City... I should have thought to touch base with Ernie for a visit... :eusa_thin
 

McRabbet

Rob
Corporate Member
Superb work, Ernie -- you are a true artist in wood. I cannot imagine the hours spent to attain this level of perfection. While it is a Double, what features distinguish this instrument from other harpsichords, including doubles? I'd (we'd) also be curious about how you developed your detailed design and plans from the museum instrument?

Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
 

ErnieM

Ernie
Corporate Member
I am amazed - AGAIN! Another work of art Ernie.

Dang - and to think I was through Choco last week on an inspection in Morehead City... I should have thought to touch base with Ernie for a visit... :eusa_thin

Hey, any time you're in the area, come on by. We'll leave the light on for 'ya.
 

ErnieM

Ernie
Corporate Member
Superb work, Ernie -- you are a true artist in wood. I cannot imagine the hours spent to attain this level of perfection. While it is a Double, what features distinguish this instrument from other harpsichords, including doubles? I'd (we'd) also be curious about how you developed your detailed design and plans from the museum instrument?

Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
What distinguishes one instrument from another is a difficult question. While there are obvious difference in number of keyboards, length, number of notes, etc., instruments from a particular region and time tend to be quite similar. This instrument was built in 1736, and the most popular instrument of this period is the 1769 Taskin double manual. They are both from the French school and are quite similar to one another. Still, they don't sound alike at all. I wish I had another lifetime to figure out exactly why, but for now I chalk it up to the fact that no two geniuses think alike - and Taskin and Hemsch were both geniuses.

In case you're interested, here's a link to a brief performance on the original instrument in the Boston museum. The instrument is 280 years old and in fantastic shape - a testament to Mr. Hemsch. Another interesting aside: the player is Dr. Peter Watchorn, and he's not playing a piece of music at all. Instead, he's improvising a piece on the spot - a feat that I find truly amazing.

As far as attaining a level of perfection, I'll let you know when I get remotely close to it, but don't hold your breath. Too much to learn - too little time - not enough talent!

Ernie
 

ErnieM

Ernie
Corporate Member
I'd (we'd) also be curious about how you developed your detailed design and plans from the museum instrument?

Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
Sorry, I forgot to answer this question in my last post. The plans for this instrument are (or at least used to be) available commercially. I bought them many years ago. Since the plan is used as a template in many areas of the construction, it is usually usable only once. As the plans are quite expensive ( up to $200 ) I have, with great effort, measured all my plans out and entered them in a CAD program. When I start work on an instrument, I take the CAD file to a digital print shop and they print out a full-sized copy for me. In this way, I can preserve the original plan.
 
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