The Clavicytherium....

« on: February 11, 2009, 12:02:00 PM »
I used to know someone called Alan Whear in Windsor. He used to have an instrument workshop behind the  barracks.  People, as they passed his place of business could see him working away on either creating a new instrument, or repairing old ones. He was brilliant craftsman But it was clear to me he was not really business minded, or else he could have gone far.

I remember once visiting him, and like myself had a weakness for early music. He even suggested to me that perhaps in the future I would have a consort just like David Munrow. However, my interests were more towards philosophy, mathematics, metaphysics, psychical research, mysticism, et cetera....These have since absorbed me since those early days but I still love early music and it still has impact on my life.

Anyway, I noticed in the local paper an article on Alan Whear whose pic was published holding his new creation a Clavicytherium. Unfortunately, I cannot recall how long ago this was but it was claimed that he was the first person to have produced this instrument which is essentially a portable "primitive" upright "harpsichord". In a way it reminded me of the portable Medieval organ except that strings could be seen vertically, and the keys would strike them when played.

Another revelation was the seeming fact that Alan had actually constructed the piano for the Piano film. Though he had sold it to the film company, he still felt that it was somehow a part of him. Thus, when filming he tried to find out how"his" piano was being used, or indeed  misused on location.

To return to the clavicytherium  I went over to Alans workshop, and he gave me a musical demonstration of it, and he notably played the Volta for me. If I recall correctly Munrow gives reference to this instrument in his book.................

Robert Searle


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