Robin Bigwood: Syntagma


NB. DOWNLOAD-ONLY – not a physical CD.

Keyboard works by Sweelinck, Picchi, Byrd, Schmidt & Bull, performed on a copy of the clavicytherium illustrated in Praetorius’s Syntagma Musicum.

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  • Audio files (in all formats) and PDF booklet available to download immediately after purchase
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Album excerpts

Track listing

1. Sweelinck: Toccata SwWV 285
2. Picchi: Ballo ditto il Stefanin
3. Byrd: Fantasia (MB13)
4. Schmidt, after de Rore: Ancor che col partire
5. Bull, after Palestrina: Fantasia Vestiva i colli

Total running time: 22m 10s

Album info

Syntagma presents a small but perfectly-formed cross-section of seventeenth century keyboard music, demonstrating the capabilities of an unusual type of keyboard instrument: an upright harpsichord or clavicytherium.

The instrument used on this EP is a modern copy by Malcolm Rose of the clavicytherium MIR 1080 in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg. It’s remarkably similar to a drawing in a famous treatise on musical instruments from 1619, Syntagma Musicum, by Michael Praetorius.

Surviving clavicytheria are comparatively rare (and German C17th keyboard instruments in general even more so), so it’s only possible to speculate about the exact details of their use. But they were probably used in domestic settings, and in small chapels, where the combination of small footprint and versatile registration would have been prized.

Recording date: 10th October 2010. Location: Holy Cross church, Bignor, West Sussex, UK. Session producer: Annabel Knight

Robin Bigwood sitting at the clavicytherium in a church setting
Robin Bigwood, during the recording session, with the German clavicytherium copy made by Malcolm Rose.

Artist info

Robin Bigwood is a UK-based harpsichordist (and music technologist) who works with many leading period instrument orchestras and ensembles both as a soloist and continuo player, and teaches at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.


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