Second Harpsichord-Building Seminar:

A new way to build a harpsichord by re-constructing old methods


Introduction to the use of calibrated sticks and the local unit of measurement to design and build a large 5-octave Neapolitan-style harpsichord


Photographs of the seminar, 6-8 October, 2006



This course will be held from 3pm Friday, October 6, 2006 until 3pm Sunday, October 8, 2006 in the capannone:  710, via Liano 20024 Castel San Pietro Terme (BO) (see map)

Tel/Fax: +39 051 943710


A second 3-day seminar will be held in our workshop in Castel San Pietro to demonstrate how we have designed and built some new 5-octave harpsichords in the Neapolitan style described elsewhere on this site.  Many documents and treatises mention the use of calibrated sticks to build harpsichords during historical times.  The aim of the seminar is to show how harpsichords can be constructed using sticks calibrated using the soldo, pollice and oncia without using full-scale drawings.

This year the seminar will be demonstrated using an antique Guarracino harpsichord made in Naples about 1670 and kindly loaned to us by Signora Fernanda Giulini of Milan. For more information about the Giulini Collection click here.  For some details of the instrument click on the images below.

Single-manual harpsichord

Onofrio Guarracino, Naples, c.1670

Original enharmonic

keyboard layout

Bridge placement. 

The bridge-to-bentside distance

= 6 once = 129mm

Course tutors:  Grant O'Brien and Graziano Bandini

The course material will include:

  1. The theory of the determination of the unit of measurement of an historical harpsichord or virginal

  2. Tables of the units of measurement used in the Italian peninsula in the historical period

  3. Some examples of the determination of the unit of measurement used in the design and construction of some historical instruments

  4. Description of the antique Onofrio Guarracino harpsichord loaned by Signora Giulini from Milan

  5. The inspiration for these harpsichords:  the painting of Mozart in Naples

  6. String-scaling theory

  7. Design principles of the 5-octave instruments

  8. Drawings of the 5-octave instruments

  9. Making of the 'oncimetro'

  10. Making of the marking-out sticks and rules

  11. Laying out of the baseboard and soundboard of these instruments in Neapolitan once

  12. Initial construction of the framing and casework of the new instruments


Course language:  Italian only

The cost is €300 per participant.  A simple workshop lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and entry to the concert on Friday evening is included.  Otherwise the cost of accommodation and food is not included.

The number of participants is limited to 10.

Because of insurance problems participants will not be able to use hand and power tools, but many of the procedures will be demonstrated by Grant O'Brien and Graziano Bandini during the course.



On the evening of Friday, October 6, a concert will be held locally in which the antique Guarracino harpsichord will be used.  The concert will feature the group Cappella Artemisia under the direction of Candace Smith.  Participants in the seminar will be admitted free, and are warmly encouraged to attend! 

The concert will take place in the Chiesa Parrocchiale di Osteria Grande (region of Castel San Pietro Terme) at 21.00.

Full information on hotel, agriturismo and B&B accommodation in Castel San Pietro can be found by clicking here.   May we recommend: Il Borgo B&B, via Liano 4231, Tel: 051/6942042, which is only about 3˝km from the workshop.  Travel from Castel San Pietro and Il Borgo to the capannone can be arranged if needed.  


For further information contact:


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