Monday, 13 August 2012

The Recorder as a Musical Instrument.

Tom's comment on my blog yesterday (about my playing the recorder at the party) made me smile, but it also made me think. Children are taught recorder in junior school and are usually taught on cheap descant instruments - shrill, out of tune and quite unbearable to listen to. Sadly, this gets the recorder a bad name and that is a shame.

The recorder was at one time a serious instrument. Early music uses it a lot and I played, along with my first husband in an Early Music Group. I played Harpsichord and between us we played all the recorders - descant, treble, tenor, bass and great bass - crumhorns, gemshorns, tabors - anything we could afford. It is quite possible to pay hundreds of pounds for a recorder - many of the good ones are made of woods like grenadilla. I had a Moeck Grenadilla treble recorder which cost several hundred pounds thirty years ago. We had a great bass specially made - I think the wood was sycamore - and the cost was certainly more than a month's salary.

So before you shudder at the very name recorder I do suggest that you listen to some early music played by some of the virtuoso recorder players - I think you will be surprised at its beauty as an instrument in its own right. Good listening!

14 comments:

Heather said...

I love the sound of the deeper recorders. How lovely to make early music on good instruments with a group of like minded people. My only experiences of recorders have been with my children, when young, bringing them home from school and having to practice. Excrutiating! I must admit that things improved quite a bit when the whole class played together.

Dominic Rivron said...

I rather like the sound of children playing recorders. I've no doubt that "better" recorders sound better but I suspect there is a cut of point at the other end of the market, too - where you're still paying more but the sound is not particularly different.

angryparsnip said...

I so enjoyed your posts about the Recorder.
Many of us only know them from the cheap ones our children bring home from Grade school.
Never knew it was such a serious instrument but I did assume it must be better than what the children where sent home with.
Much like when I tell people how much I love Tofu. So many people make jokes about it and yet I have eaten it for years and it is wonderful. People just assume it is tasteless and bad because so many people make fun of it.
When in Japan I love to eat as many different kinds I can.
Much like all the different kinds of Recorders you played.

Such a interesting post today.

cheers, parsnip


Tom Stephenson said...

'Fool on the Hill', by the Beatles. is the only modern recorder use that I have really enjoyed. Don't get me wrong, I love Purcell and the Early English Baroque, but I really don't think that you should wantonly give a child a treble recorder and expect to have a peaceful evening for at least 4 years. You might as well give a German Dwarf a tin drum.

Joanne Noragon said...

Thanks for expanding on your instrument. I have a tin ear, but my clarinet playing younger daughter could make any woodwind sound good. I was fortunate to see a maker of recorders at several fairs I attended and he loved to outfit me with a new recorder for my daughter. I think I bought her three different ones. You're correct; they were not inexpensive! I wonder if those are still around to pass along to the children, along with the ocharina.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

You're preaching to the converted here. Astonishing instrument in the hands of an expert.

cloudia charters said...

Yes! I too play woodwinds and you are SO right!



Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
<(-'.'-)>

> < } } ( ° >

> < } } (°>

ArcticFox said...

slightly off topic - but the picture of your dog on the new bed looks like a very tiny dog that's being baked into an extremely large curd tart!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Can you suggest some CDs which have recorder music/early music by good groups?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting comments here and I do agree with them all. I agree with you Dom that a poor player can make a good recorder sound rubbish whereas a really good player can probably get a reasonable tune from a rotten recorder because he/she has the ear to keep it in tune; I also agree with you Tom except that plenty of parents with children playing any instrument (violin is a case in point) have endured a long time of pain before the tuneful aspect breaks through.
As for recommending good CD's I am afraid I can't. That life is too long ago for me, but I am sure the internet could come up with something.

Hildred and Charles said...

I did follow your advice, Pat, and found some absolutely marvelous recorder music - in particular the Loeki Stardust Quartett from Amsterdam. I enjoyed your family music post - Charles and I used to play duets, and the children who didn't play piano had guitars, but we never had anything as much fun as your musical times sounded.

Leilani Lee said...

Chiming in very late on this post--I played the recorder in college in an early music group accompanied with harpsichord. There were four other recorder players -- It was a wonderful experience.

Emmanuel Igolo said...

Great blog, in case anyone is looking, here is a blog for playing the recorder.

Deborah Richards said...

I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing. call recorder