19 November 2019

Recorder facts: We know more than just recorder insurance!

By Lark Music
We discovered a lot of recorder facts which might surprise you.

It’s common to think that a recorder is a simple instrument and one that’s associated with early classroom memories. Perhaps you learnt to play Three Blind Mice or Mary Had a Little Lamb, but did you know that it’s also an instrument for the professionals? We asked Tabea Debus from the Young Classical Artists Trust travels the world giving recitals as a solo recorder player to find out what she loves about playing this instrument. Her passion for what can seem like a simple instrument to some inspired us to compile a list of recorder facts.

The recorder is a very natural instrument, that’s what I love most about it: it directly translates what you do into sound, colour and musical speech, almost like singing – but at the same time it’s a lot more versatile (and also harder) than people think at first glance… Plus, having a large (and growing) collection of different recorders at home is kind of cool!

Recorder Facts

1. There’s more than one type of recorder size! 

Recorders come in a number of sizes. The four most commonly played today – a descant, treble, tenor, and bass.

2. The earliest known version of a recorder is a 14th-century instrument found in Göttingen, Germany.

It is 256 mm in length and made from a single piece of plumwood. The design is conducive to players who are left- or right-handed due to the presence of widely-spaced double holes for the bottom finger.

3. Recorders were a big hit with the upper-class households and palaces of the 16th century

During the 16th century, recorders became a staple instrument of professional wind players and were possessions of many upper-class households and palaces in Europe. Some members of the upper class even tried their own hand at the recorder. It then became a popular amateur instrument among the middle class as well.

4. During the 17th century, or early Baroque period, recorders were constructed in three parts.

These were called joints: the head, middle, and foot. The middle section had 7 finger-holes while the foot had only one.

5. 1750 onwards saw the decline of popularity for the recorder

After 1750, the popularity of the recorder declined and it was not often found in the musical repertoire. However, the turn of the 20th century brought a revival of the instrument in a variety of different musical styles ranging from avant-garde and theatrical to minimalist and microtonal.

To hear the recorder brought to life – come to Tabea’s recital on 3 December, 1-2 pm as part of the YCAT Wigmore Hall Lunchtime Concert Series.

Information for this post was sourced from the “Recorder” entry by David Lasocki in Grove Music Online.

Featured image credit: Kaupo Kikkas

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