English virginal (with jack rail removed) made by Robert Hatley, London, 1664; in the elipsis
Small rectangular harpsichord
with a single set of strings and a single manual. The derivation of its name is uncertain. The virginal's strings run parallel to the keyboard, which occupies only a portion of the longer side. Combination virginals include a smaller portable virginal that can be placed on top of the larger keyboard to create a two-manual instrument. The virginal was particularly popular in 16th–17th-century England, where much music was written for it by William Byrd
, Thomas Morley
, Thomas Weelkes
, and others.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.