The spinet is a small, stringed keyboard instrument that was popular from the late 16th to the 18th century. It is similar to a harpsichord but smaller in size and often has a more rectangular shape.
The spinet usually has only one keyboard, with a range of about four to six octaves. Its strings are plucked by a quill or a plectrum, similar to how a harpsichord produces sound. However, unlike a harpsichord, the spinets strings are often arranged diagonally, which allows for a more compact design.
The spinet is considered an ancestor of the modern piano. Its design and mechanism were influential in the development of the piano, particularly in the creation of the escapement mechanism, which allows for the repetition of notes. This mechanism was further developed in later keyboard instruments and eventually led to the invention of the piano.
Although the spinet is not as widely used today, it played an important role in the history of keyboard instruments. Its compact size and unique sound made it a popular choice for domestic use, and it was often used in households and smaller venues. Many famous composers, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, composed music specifically for the spinet.
A stringed instrument with keyboard, similar but smaller than a harpsichord. Ancestor of the piano.