A stringed keyboard instrument developed during the 14th and 15th centuries, the harpsichord had remained in wide use until the early 19th century when it was superseded by the piano. The harpsichord generates sound by plucking a string rather than striking one, as in the piano or clavichord.
Soon after its introduction, the harpsichord became enormously popular throughout Europe. Notable centers of production appeared in Italy, Flanders, France, Germany, and England. The plucked strings of the harpsichord have a rich sound which clarity defines the complex contrapuntal melodies of Baroque music. Almost every Baroque composer wrote for the harpsichord, as either a solo or continuo instrument. Many 20th-century revivals of the harpsichord music featured compositions from the 16th to 18th centuries with particular emphasis on Bach.