First Advisor

Kauffman, Deborah

Second Advisor

Amendola, Vergie

Document Type


Date Created



The harpsichord is no longer an instrument of the past. Since its revival in the nineteenth century, it has coexisted with the piano as one of the most important keyboard instruments. Modern composers all over the world have written music not only for the piano but also for the harpsichord. Composers and performers from non-Western countries have become interested in writing and playing music for the harpsichord. South Korean composers like Isang Yun and Byungdong Paik tend to mix their country’s musical style with Western compositional techniques. Yun’s Shao Yang Yin and Paik’s Three Bagatelles demonstrate the blending of Western modern compositional techniques with traditional Korean musical style. The harpsichord music by Yun and Paik show that the separation of old and new, traditional and modern, and Korean and Western is meaningless. Isang Yun’s Shao Yang Yin (1966) was intended from the start to be performed on either the harpsichord or the piano. The two contrasting characters from Taoist teaching – Yang and Yin – inspired Yun to create a mood and dynamics that change frequently. Yun uses a twelve-tone technique in this composition, as well as what he termed a “main-tone technique,” in which one note is decorated by surrounding notes and ornaments. Byungdong Paik composed his Three Bagatelles for the piano in 1973 and arranged it for the harpsichord fifteen years later, adding new sections of music in the first and second movements and an Intermezzo for improvisation between the second and third movements. Unlike Yun, Paik did not use twelve-tone technique in his Bagatelles, but instead focused on the basic musical elements of harmony, rhythm, and melody. He also uses a pivotal tone technique, in which a single note appears and is maintained until the end. Because both works can be performed either on the harpsichord or piano, different practice and performance approaches are required. Each instrument requires a different approach to the expression of dynamics and tone quality. Musical analysis of these two works helps the performer interpret the composer’s intention correctly before practice and performance. Performers should recognize the difference between the harpsichord and the piano, understand the strengths and weaknesses of their instrument, and strive to create the most effective and expressive sound on each. Thus, applying appropriate practice methods in accordance with musical context is essential to a successful performance.


Harpsichord, piano


166 pages

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