Claviciterium, or clavichterium (French clavecin vertical; Italian cembalo verticale, cf. Latin clavicytherium - “key kifara”) - a type of harpsichord with a vertical arrangement of the body and strings (French clavecin vertical; Italian cembalo verticale).
Like the piano, the harpsichord took up a lot of space, so its vertical version, which was called the “clavichterium”, was soon created. It was a neat compact instrument, something like a harp equipped with a keyboard.
For the convenience of the game, the keyboard keyboard kept the horizontal position, being in a plane perpendicular to the plane of the strings, and the game mechanism received a slightly different design for transmitting movement from the rear ends of the keys to the jumpers, which were also placed in a horizontal position.
When playing, the front lid of the clavitcherium usually opened, the sound poured freely and became stronger than other forms of plucked keyboard instruments of similar sizes.
The claviciterium was used as a solo, chamber-ensemble and orchestral instrument.
Traditionally, instruments of the 17-18th centuries were richly decorated with painting, carving and inlay.
One of the common types of painting was biblical subjects depicting musical instruments.
For example, the harp in the minds of Europeans of the Middle Ages and Renaissance was strongly associated with the biblical king David, the legendary author of the psalms. In the paintings he was often portrayed playing this instrument as long as he grazed cattle (in his youth, David was a shepherd). Such an interpretation of the biblical plot brought King David closer to Orpheus, who tamed the animals with his playing the lyre. But more often David can be seen playing the harp in front of the suffering melancholy Saul: “And Saul sent to Jesse: May David serve with me, for he has found favor in my eyes. And when the spirit from God was on Saul, then David, taking the harp, played, and Saul became more comforting and better, and the evil spirit departed from him ”(1 Samuel 16: 22-23).
A remarkable compositional solution was used by an unknown Bohemian artist of the 17th century, who adorned the clavichiterium building with his picture, where he portrayed King David playing the harp. At the moment, this instrument is in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The oldest surviving clavichterium is kept at the Royal College of Music in London. It is estimated that around 1480 production. It was supposedly made in southern Germany, in Ulm or Nuremberg.