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 Recorders
Author: beejay 
Date:   2010-09-27 22:35

My orchestra this year is doing one of Charpentier's Te Deums, which has no parts for clarinets, of course. Rather than twiddle my thumbs, I thought it might be a good opportunity to learn the recorder. This is not an instrument I am familiar with, other than that I need an alto (treble) in F tuned to 440. Can anyone offer advice on a good instrument to buy. I don't want to spend a fortune, but I need something better than a student model, I think.

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 Re: Recorders
Author: lllebret 
Date:   2010-09-27 23:10

Although I haven't played one personally, Vincent Bernolin makes a resin recorder that sounds very nice on his website - it should be better than most factory instruments that sell at a similiar price. Aesthe instruments can be very good for the money also. All these instruments will vary in sound, response, tuning, etc. with the particular example so having an experienced recorder player helping with your selection might save you some heartache later. At the risk of seeming negative, it seems a little presumptious to think that one can learn a musical instrument in less than one year - I am a woodwind doubler (sax, clarinet, flute, traverso and recorders) and a serious recorder student and while many think recorder is the easiest instrument to play I will tell you that I think it is the hardest to play well (and my teacher, Pete Rose also agrees with this) - the very thing that makes it easy at the beginning (the sound being made by the fipple) makes it hard to play well - one doesn't have direct control over the sound production - dynamics and pitch are linked in a way unlike other woodwinds. Having said that, I wish you well on your recorder journey, its a instrument I've come to truly love and I think that playing the recorder has helped with my modern woodwind playing.

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2010-09-28 00:46

You should begin with the Yamaha Model 300 "Rottenbergh" plastic alto, which sells for $40 and is better than anything you'll find at 10 times the price. It's really amazingly good.

I found the recorder very easy to pick up. The hard part -- the difference between recorder and clarinet -- is the blowing, particularly the lower breath pressure and learning to find the instrument's best tone with the breath, rather than the embouchure.

For more, see my recent posting at http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=335559&t=335552. The string from 2002 at http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=67740&t=67638 is also worth reading.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Recorders
Author: concertmaster3 
Date:   2010-09-28 01:22

I second the Yamaha 300 line. I have a YRA-302B III that I think is great. Intonation is wonderful and it has a great sound.

Ron Ford
Woodwind Specialist
Performer/Teacher/Arranger
http://www.RonFordMusic.com

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 Re: Recorders
Author: lllebret 
Date:   2010-09-28 03:52

Actually, I also think one should start with a Yamaha 300 as it plays extremely well for the money but it is a student model. The Bernolin and Aesthe are upper intermediate instruments akin to an all wood Bliss or Yamaha 650. However, in recorders the price difference is huge - $40 versus 359 earos or so to over $700 for the Aesthe, so I too think the Yamaha is the way to go untill one makes a real commitment to playing the recorder. The problem is that there is virtually no resistence in the Yamaha voicing so its hard to feel what you are doing. I know that if you can already play, you can make the Yamaha sound really good- I also think that the lack of resistance makes it harder to learn on. On the other hand, besides the price, the downside of wood recorders, is that you can only play them so long before the block swells and you risk damaging the instrument if you keep playing it (Bernolin makes a hand finished instrument of resin which has features that cannot be molded so it should play more like an expensive hand made instument than a factory made instrument and its 882 euros less than his boxwood recorders). I guess I'm kind of funny about instruments - I have some plastic recorders but the rest of my instruments (including the majority of my recorders) are top of the line as I don't want to feel that instument is the limitting factor; any problems are mine to work out with practice not an instrument that doesn't respond or has pitch problems, etc. The other advantage of pro instruments are that they hold their value better; intermediate instruments tend to lose their value from the original price where in pro instuments the used price tends to reflect a discount off the new price.

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 Re: Recorders
Author: beejay 
Date:   2010-09-28 08:14

Thanks for that good advice. I think I'll go for the Yamaha. Lllebret is absolutely right to accuse me of being presumptious in thinking I can learn such a complicated instrument within a year. However, I shall be playing a fairly limited part and I have a skilled colleague to guide me. It seems like too good an opportunity to give up. In addition, I am increasingly attracted to early composers like Charpentier. I went to a baroque concert conducted by Skip Sempe at Versailles the other evening, and the level of woodwind playing knocked my socks off.

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2010-09-28 13:00

Since you've got some time, if you're interested in prowling around the market for used instruments, excellent recorders turn up for very little money at yard sales and flea markets. Condition varies, of course: some of the yard sale recorders, especially, are complete wrecks, obviously used by kids for something other than music! But I bought my plastic Yamahas at yard sales for less than $5 each, and have also acquired wooden models, lightly used, for under $30 each. My best ones are Concerto, Sonata and especially Koch. The first two are mass-produced in Germany and easily available. The Koch is something special to look for: handmade of rosewood or cocobolo, with excellent intonation.

I look for double holes on the F and G holes on the F-pitched recorders and for double holes for C and D on the C-pitched recorders. Also, the higher-quality recorders come apart into three sections: separate head, stack and foot joints. These features indicate a better-made instrument with better intonation.

Lelia
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/Lelia_Loban
To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2010-09-28 15:39

beejay -

I love Charpentier, and Skip Sempe is really good.

There's some French music for recorder, but not a lot. Recorder was much more popular in England, Germany and Italy. Also, there was a gigantic battle of styles between the "Italian taste" and the "French taste." Italian recorder music tended to be bright and virtuosic, with sweeping, grandiose gestures and ornamentation. French music was graceful and elegant, with self-contained phrases and "twiddly" ornamentation. The two require very different ways of playing.

I respect Lelia's knowledge of yard sales, but all of the Koch recorders I've seen have been low-end instruments. You recognize them by their simple shape, single holes and a brass pin running from side to side near the top of the head joint that holds the block in place.

As Illebret says, the Yamahas have low resistance. However, I think they produce a more characteristic sound than recorders with higher resistance. Playing with low breath pressure (even letting your cheeks puff out) is the essential difference between recorder and clarinet.

On recorder, the voice is built into the instrument, and recorder requires more precise breath control to find the resonant point and stay on it. High-breath-pressure recorders (i.e., nearly everything between the Yamaha and hand-made instruments) are made for beginners and intermediate players. The usable breath pressure covers a fairly wide range, at the expense of a narrow, resonant peak response. Even the von Huene Workshop uses a default intermediate voicing, though of course on request they'll give you a more resonant but more difficult voicing.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2010-09-28 16:36

Illebret -

Your AOL email address appears to be obsolete. Please contact me at krsmav [at] gmail.com.

Thanks.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Merlin_Williams 
Date:   2010-09-28 16:56

One diversion from the Yamahas - if you want a plastic soprano, the Aulos 500 model is far better. Yamaha is great for SATB. Their tenor in particular is excellent.

Jupiter Canada Artist/Clinician
Stratford Shakespeare Festival musician
Woodwind Doubling Channel Creator on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/WoodwindDoubling

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 Re: Recorders
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2010-09-28 18:01

Soprano recorders should be banned, or at least be forbidden for classroom use. I remember having to attend "christmas recorder choir" back in school, which consisted of roughly 30 soprano recorders of all makes and models, of which at least 29 haven't been in tune with each other.
Fingernails on a black board was "chillout music" in comparison. Brrrrr!

(FWIW I still have my Fehr pearwood Alto from back then...)

--
Ben

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 Re: Recorders
Author: lllebret 
Date:   2010-09-28 18:29

You've got that right tictactux! Often the general music teacher responsible for teaching the little darlings recorder doesn't play the instrument himself/herself (at least here in the US. ). Talk about the blind leading the blind..

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Bartmann 
Date:   2010-09-28 19:20

The choice of the Yamaha 300 series is a very good choice. I have European friends who play recorders professionally and they say a good plastic recorder is much preferable to an average wooden recorder. Also wooden recorders have a very short shelf life and will blow out more quickly than a clarinet ever would.

Several years ago I learned recorder in order to expand my repertoire to the Renaissance and Baroque. But after realizing that learning any instrument, even a fairly simple wind instrument like the recorder, would require some dedication, I chose to upgrade and learn the flute.

Don't get me wrong I like the sound of recorders, but the tonal palette of the flute is much more flexible plus the flute can play the vast flute repertoire plus early music.

However there is something EXTREMELY appealing about adding a very simple, inexpensive instrument like the recorder to your arsenal. Especially when your primary instrument is the clarinet.

Enjoy

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 Re: Recorders
Author: lllebret 
Date:   2010-09-29 18:26

Bartmann, I wish you hadn't said "upgraded to the flute" -the recorder is its own thing with its own repertoire and playing techniques unique to itself (surprisingly to some, it has a large body of 20th century works some of which utillize extended techniques such as multiphonics, microtones, glissandi, etc.) and its use as a "starter" instrument in the US has lead to most people not thinking of it as a "real" instrument - a damn shame because when well played its quite beautiful and different than a transverse flute. Its demise in the 18th century had more to do with its lack of volume than anything else - and I personally think loud is overrated (I'm getting old!). As far as using a modern Boehm flute for Renaisance and Baroque music, you are basically playing transcriptions as the Boehm flute is a completely different bore design than either a Renaisance or Baroque flute and incapable of some of the historic performance techniques ( Ren flute - cylindrical, Baroque - cylindrical head with reverse taper body, Boehm - parabolic head (narrow at top) cylindrical. Performance techniques impossible or difficult on Boehm flute - flattement (finger vibrato), finger glissando, playing in unequal temperments, playing so-called enharmonics as distinct pitches,( ie. a# and b flat have different fingerings on the historical instruments), historical articulations (not impossible on Boehm flute but they are more distinct on reproduction instruments maybe because the embouchure hole is so much smaller that the initial consonant is heard more distictly), etc.). I guess I really am becoming a member of the early music police as some of my friends say! (Don't tell them I like to listen to Glenn Gould and Angela Hewitt!)

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Merlin_Williams 
Date:   2010-09-29 20:00

For me, recorder has been a useful double in music theatre. I've done several shows with prominent and often challenging recorder parts in the past few years.

Jupiter Canada Artist/Clinician
Stratford Shakespeare Festival musician
Woodwind Doubling Channel Creator on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/WoodwindDoubling

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2010-09-30 14:39

Orange Noise: quasi-stationary noise with a finite power spectrum with a finite number of small bands of zero energy dispersed throughout a continuous spectrum. These bands of zero energy are centered about the frequencies of musical notes in whatever system of music is of interest.

Since all in-tune musical notes are eliminated, Orange Noise consists entirely of frequencies that are *out* of tune.

Orange Noise is most easily generated by a roomful of primary school students equipped with plastic soprano recorders.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2010-09-30 15:16

Also senior citizens armed with piccolos.

Best regards,
jnk

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 Re: Recorders
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2010-10-01 19:52

>>I respect Lelia's knowledge of yard sales, but all of the Koch recorders I've seen have been low-end instruments. You recognize them by their simple shape, single holes and a brass pin running from side to side near the top of the head joint that holds the block in place.
>>

Koch must've made different grades of recorders, then, because my cocobolo Koch recorders don't resemble that description at all. They've got the double holes, an elegant shape, separate head and foot joints and no pin in the block. The intonation is first-rate. They're made of rosewood or cocobolo. I don't know whether it's significant that I bought them in Pennsylvania at different times: at the Renninger's Extravaganza in Kutztown and at Shupp's Grove in Adamstown. These are the only Koch recorders I've ever seen. Ken, I wonder whether some store in Pennsylvania stocked a particularly high grade, if the ones you've seen are inferior.

Lelia
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/Lelia_Loban
To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: Recorders
Author: beejay 
Date:   2010-10-12 22:28

Thanks Ken et al for the advice. My Yamaha instrument arrived from the Early Music shop today, and I'm very impressed by the appearance, the intonation and the very sweet sound.

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