Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jan 14/10: Recorders

Jan 14/10: Recorders, originally uploaded by susanvg.
From left to right: garklein (in C), sopranino (in F), soprano (in C ), alto (in F), tenor (in C) bass (in F), great bass (in C)

Thought I would share some of my recorders. The smallest, a garklein, I only bought for fun - I have yet to play it with others. It is very high-pitched; I think it could be used to call every dog in the neighbourhood. The others I use regularly when I play in Flutissimo, Montreal's recorder orchestra. Some recorders are in C (C is the lowest note) and others in F (F the lowest note). When you play all these recorders, you have to be able to read both treble clef and bass clef with both C and F instruments. This mental gymnastics is probably a good anti-Alzheimer activity.

Most of you are probably familiar with the soprano - that instrument that tortures most students and parents as children shriek on it. Recorders are easy to play as a beginning instrument. Because of their simplicity, they are a challenge to play really well.

This is only part of my recorder collection. I also have renaissance recorders; they have a cylindrical bore ( the hole that goes through the centre) whereas these recorders taper towards the bottom. Only the wood flares out. Then there are my recorders in 415 pitch (sometimes called baroque pitch) and regularly play a voice flute - a 415 recorder in D. I'd be happy to answer questions about the instruments - just leave a comment.


  1. So interesting - I learned a lot from your post, Susan. I love to listen to music but (I hope you won't abandon me because of this!), I'm totally untrained and unskilled. That said, I'm encouraging my Grandchildren to love music. Your instruments are so ornate, so beautifully carved. I'm wondering what those metal parts do that are at the top of the largest.

  2. The metal at the top is called a bocal. With the very large instruments, the mouthpiece is too far away to blow into it directly, so the metal pipe comes down and has a wooden piece fitted on to it into which you blow. Some people play the bass without a bocal, but as I am rather short, I need the bocal - or a giraffe neck!

  3. I used to play recorders. I remember bringing them along when I spent a summer studying history in Oxford and I met someone in our program who played a recorder too. We played together in a lovely cathedral. Was that cool. Now I'm just dealing with classical guitar. I loved seeing yours Susan and remembering mine,