The English Virginal

The early English instruments were mostly virginals, and a great many survive. The virginal is similar to the harpsichord, but smaller, and with the keyboard arrangement on the side instead of the end. The are generally disposed 1x8', and have a range of C/E-c''. Important also in the Italian and Flemish schools, the virginal in England was the instrument of royalty as well as burgher, and it has a considerable literature designated for it. The keyboard can be place to the left, the center, or the right, the last of which is called a muselar and has a distinctive flutey sound.