The predecessor of the modern piano, an instrument used in the Baroque and Classical eras.
Harpsichords differ from pianos in that a system of quills pluck the strings when a key is depressed; consequently, a harpsichordist cannot control dynamic contrast (such as playing pianissimo or fortissimo) by the pressure of the finger on the key. Harpsichords typically have a 5-octave keyboard, a wooden frame, and strings of brass rather than steel. Harpsichords are usually tuned to one of many meantone tuning systems and not the modern 12-tone equal temperament system. The most common pitch for a harpsichord is A=415, which is 100 cents or 1 half-step lower than the modern standard of A=440. This is because A=415 was the most common tuning pitch used in the Baroque era in Europe. However, harpsichords may be tuned to many different tuning standards depending on the type of music being played.