The clavichord is the simplest of the keyed stringed instruments. Contained in a shallow, rectangular box, its strings are suspended over a shallow bridge and extend past left dampers. Pressing a key raised a thin brass tangent, or blade, that activates the string, dividing it into two sections; one is free to vibrate, and the other is damped. The pitch is a determined by the length of the string from the end that is free to vibrate to the blade of the tangent. When the key is released, the string is stopped by the damper. Because of the short distance of the stroke, and the location of its point of contact, the tone is soft and lovely. The instrument is capable of some variation in dynamics (soft and loud) and of vibrato effects) and of vibrato effect (rapid and minute fluctuation in pitch).
The clavichord was developed in the late 14th century by adding a key mechanism to the monochord, an instrument with one or more strings that produced different pitches by the use of movable bridge.