Music: The Plectra Pluckers

There are many who play stickily, as if they had glue between their fingers. Their touch is lethargic; they hold notes too long. Others leave the keys too soon, as if they burned.

So Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (third son of Johann Sebastian) described the pitfalls of harpsichord playing, adding that a good harpsichord performer must have "das Schnellen" (the snap), achieved by imitating with one's fingers the leg action of a chicken scratching the ground. Despite such difficulties (experts figure that not one harpsichord player in a hundred had his Schnellen properly under control), the U.S. is in the grip of...

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