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Guide to Recorders

Recorder : What is it?

Recorders

The recorder is a end-blown type of fipple flute or internal duct flute. It is made with a wooden plug (block or fipple) that constricts the instrument's mouth. It requires seven fingers to cover and uncover the holes. The lower one or two holes are usually covered at the same time to produce semitones. It also has a hole for the thumb of the upper hand. It can have a cylindrical or a tapered bore, with the mouthpiece end being the widest in diameter.

The recorder was a popular instrument in the medieval times, but its popularity declined in the 18th-century with the advent of other orchestral woodwind instruments such as the flute and the clarinet, since they had a wider chromatic range and a louder volume.  The recorder was traditionally associated with funerals, marriages, miraculous events, shepherds, birds, and amorous scenes. Today, it is played in a recorder consort that includes the soprano (descant), alto (treble), tenor, and bass. 

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Types of Recorders

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Kinds of Recorders include the following:

Soprano (descant) recorder

  • The soprano recorder is a common solo instrument in the recorder family.
  • The soprano recorder in C is the most commonly used in classroom instruction.
  • It also comes in soprano F, D, G, and E flat, although they are not very popular.


Alto (treble) recorder


  • The alto recorder is also a common solo instrument in the recorder family.
  • It comes in high treble in F, treble in B flat, alto in F, alto in C, treble in G, and high treble in C.


Tenor recorder

  • The tenor recorder comes in tenor in B flat, tenor in G, and tenor in D, which is also called the voice flute.


Bass recorder


  • The bass recorder comes in bass in F, contrabass in D, and bass in C, which is also known as great bass in Britain.
  • It also comes in subcontrabass in C or F, but it is very rare and difficult to handle. This type of bass recorder is about two meters tall.

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Choosing Recorders (Buying tips)

Materials used:  For quality, choose a recorder made of hardwood such as rosewood, oiled pearwood, or boxwood, with a block of red cedar wood. If you want an affordable and low-maintenance instrument, choose a recorder made of plastic that does not require re-oiling and resists damage caused by condensation.

Range:  Look for a recorder designed with a greater dynamic range and powerful bottom notes, allowing it to be heard easier and clearer when playing in a concert.  

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