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- M -

Machine stop
A mechanism operated by a pedal or knee lever found in some eighteenth century French and English harpsichords. It affects several registers simultaneously and is used to obtain a sudden piano effect.
 
Manual
A keyboard. The upper manual is placed above the lower manual.
 
Manual coupler
A device used to connect the keys of the manuals. When it is engaged and the lower manual is played, the upper manual moves with it.
 
Marking Gauge
A tool used to mark a line parallel to an edge of a piece of wood. It consists of a bar of wood armed with a point or knife blade. An adjustable lead or fence slides along the bar to regulate the distance from the edge of the work to the scribed line.
 
Mitre
1. A cut across the end of a piece of wood at an angle more acute than 90 degrees. 2. The sliding accessory running in grooves milled into the table of a circular saw, used for off-cuts. It can be adjusted for 90 degree cuts or mitre cuts down to 30 degrees.
 
Mitre joint
A joint which bisects the angle at which to pieces of wood intersect.
 
Mitre saw
1. A hollow-ground circular saw with many teeth designed to cut across the grain. 2. A type of stiff backed hand-saw with small teeth used for mitre cuts.
 
Mortise
A square or oblong hole in wood.
 
Motion of registers
The movement of the register necessary to advance the plectra from "off" position to "on" position.
 
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- N -

Name batten
The narrow strip of wood at the bottom edge of the nameboard which must be taken off to permit the keyboard(s) to be removed. The maker of the instrument often inscribes his name on this piece.
 
Nameboard
The fixed part of the case of a harpsichord or bentside spinet which is located transversely above the keys. To be distinguished from the name batten which is screwed or pegged to it.
 
Non-inner-outer
That style of Italian instrument in which the case and the instrument are one and the same. No camouflage is applied to make it appear to be an inner-outer instrument.
 
Nut
A curved strip of wood or metal fastened to the wrestplank. The strings rest on it and are maintained in positions by nut pins.
 
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- O -

"Off" position
The position of a register or jack which has been retired from the string. The stop will not play when the register is in "off" position (when properly adjusted).
 
"On" position
The position of a register or jack which has been advanced toward the string. The stop is ready to play when the register is in "on" position.
 
Ottavino
A virginal or spinet at four-foot pitch.
 
Outer case
The decorated outer box of an Italian instrument.
 
Overlap
The amount the plectrum projects beyond the string when the plectrum is in "on" position.
 
Overrail
A projecting rail felted on its underside which is mounted to the top of the rack. Serves to limit the key dip.
 
Overspun strings
See covered string.
 
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- P -

Paper, block-printed
The ornamental paper, printed from wooden blocks, which was used to adorn the inside and sometimes the outside of Flemish instruments. It is occasionally found in French instruments.
 
Peau de buffle
Buffalo hide. A stop of jacks in which the plectra are made of very soft leather - usually the rank of jacks farthest from the player.
 
Pedal
A device operated by the foot of the player which moves the registers, the buff stop, or the coupler. In modern harpsichords, one pedal is usually provided for each register and one each for the buff stop and the coupler.
 
Pedal board
A keyboard played with the feet as in the organ.
 
Pedal harpsichord
A harpsichord in which the stops are turned "off" and "on" by means of pedals.
 
Pentagonal spinet
The most common type of Italian spinet.
 
Pitch
That quality of a musical tone which is dependent on the comparative rapidity of the vibrations producing it. Also the general level of tone of a choir of strings or of an entire instrument compared to some sort of standard such as a'' = 440.
 
Pivot
An axle, often made of a bank pin, upon which the tongue rotates to permit the plectrum to escape below the string when the key is released.
 
Plectrum
The part of the jack which actually plucks the string. It is mounted in the tongue. It can be made of leather, quill or plastic.
 
Plein jeu
Full harpsichord. The fullest registration of which an instrument is capable.
 
Plucking point
The point at which a string is plucked relative to the nut. The smaller the distance to the plucking point the more nasal the tone.
 
Pull-down pedals
A pedal board which is connected to the lower manual by cords. When a pedal is depressed the corresponding key is pulled down, sounding the note.
 
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- Q -

Quarter, on the (quartersawed)
The orientation of a plank sawed out of a tree trunk so that the broad face is on the radius of the trunk. Wood sawed in this way shrinks far less across the grain than that sawed on the slab, and presents a figure of parallel striations rather than the whorls characteristic of the chordal or slab cut.
 
Quilled jack
A jack with a quill plectrum.
 
Quill plectrum
A plectrum made of crow or raven quill. In modern harpsichords crow quill generally has been replaced by a variety of plastics of nearly identical mechanical properties. To be distinguished from leather plectrum.
 
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