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virginal


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This word (not of Eng. origin) was used in Eng. as generic term for all types of plucked kbd. instr., but also had specific meaning. First mentioned c.1460, name being used in Fr. and Ger. Typical virginals of oblong shape with one set of strs., parallel to kbd. (Differed from hpd. in shape of soundbox, placing of strs.—at right angles on hpd.—and existence of 2 bridges.) Kbd. on Flemish virginals was set to right or left, in others it was centrally placed. Double virginals had 2 kbds. Much fine mus. written for virginals by Byrd, Bull, Morley, Farnaby, etc. See Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Origin of name obscure, but probably comes from instrument's association with female performers or possibly from its tone (like a young girl's voice).

Subjects: Music.


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