Harpsichord Swirl for 8-channel audio

2012, ~7.5 minutes

Harpsichord Swirl by nissim schaul

Harpsichord Swirl was written expressly for the of the Chapelle des Carmelites in the Musée d'art et d'histoire in St-Denis, France. The Baroque-era Chapel's reverb is both lengthy and peculiarly warm. The piece is performable in any resonant space, but will not have quite the same effect elsewhere.

The sound source is recordings of a harpsichord being played in various ways, manipulated mostly by layering and reversing, with some pitch-shift. Spacialization also plays an important role, as discreet sounds give way to piled, spinning ones -- but the sonic environment is key. The long reverb, plus the amplification of the original sounds to a volume impossible with an acoustic harpsichord, combine to make sounds that take advantage of the harpsichord's natural resonance, but that die away slowly, the opposite of normal.

A special thank you to Alissa Duryee for providing the harpsichord samples.

Performance Materials

If you are interested in the audio files and max patch (for spacialization) for Harpsichord Swirl, please contact Nissim.


  • March 29, 2012: World premiere at Chapelle des Carmelites, Musée d'art et d'histoire, St-Denis, France.
Contact Nissim Schaul