I’ve recently been trying to extend my range on the Recorder.

Up until this point, I’ve mostly stayed in the safe, easy lower octave. Nine is Fine after all, right? But that limits the pieces You can play rather greatly, and the keys in which You can play them even more so. So, as I am diving deeper into my studies of Early Music, I feel the need to stretch my wings, so to speak.

It started when I was practicing the Bransle des Hermites a while back. The way it is written, it sits squarely in between the lowest and second lowest octaves on the alto recorder. This means it uses a few notes I have little to no experience actually playing on the instrument, and I would have to learn them in order to play it.

Luckily, I’d already done the homework (intellectually, at least) for the fingerings on the recorder, all the way up through its range… so, with a little more effort, I was able to play it through a few times (Though not quite well enough to record for my soundcloud yet. Stay tuned!). It was fun, but a pretty different experience for me, musically.

First of all, the recorder has interesting dynamics vs other wind instruments. Higher notes tend to be a bit louder, especially when You are new to the instrument. And playing loud is a difficult thing for me to do at home (I’ll make another post on that some other time).

More than that, though, is the fact that I have mostly played string instruments like my harp, the banjo, the bass and the guitar.

On those kinds of instruments, fingering tends to be very constant on the instrument, no matter the octave. On the recorder, this is not the case: Not only are there multiple fingerings for many notes, but there are also different fingerings depending on which octave You are playing in.

I find myself playing the wrong fingering instinctively, and that makes the recorder do this very odd flarbing noise. And maintaining my breath control, embouchure, and finger height take so much of my attention at this point that a mistake like that stops the tune in its tracks, for me.

Which, of course, is frustrating. But I am used to that kind of frustration by now, I would say. In a way, I find it comforting: It is a sign I am going the right way in my musical practice.

So, much like the clarinet (which I am saving for when I have my own room, after the move coming up in a month or two), I have a lot to learn. But, taking the first step is important, and I have taken that step towards mastering both main octaves on this beautiful instrument.

Categories:  music 
Tags:  recorder  early music  comparisons