October 03, 2002

Recorder Day

Thursday is Recorder Day. Every Thursday morning I gather up my bag of recorders and sheet music, and the separate case containing my bass recorder, and lug them in to work. At lunch I meet with three other people (on a good day), and we play a variety of things ranging from Early Music to relatively modern klezmer.

For those who aren't familiar with them, the recorder is the ancestor of the modern transverse flute. It's played differently; instead of blowing across an opening, you blow into a mouthpiece. It's similar in that regard to a tin whistle. They come in a variety of sizes, and on a good day we'll play four part music, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass. The ranges aren't the same as the choral parts of the same name; I believe the overall tonal range is about half that of a choir.

A bass recorder is a thing to see. Picture if you can a small bazooka, about four feet long, turned out of exotic hardwood and festooned with metal keywork. But if a bass recorder is a bazooka, today we were graced with the presence of a howitzer--Dave (Dave my co-worker, not Dave my little boy) was able to borrow a "great-bass". This beast is almost half again as long as a bass and speaks half-an-octave lower. You blow into a long metal tube called a bocal that curves up from your mouth about eight inches and disappears into the top of the recorder; you rest the bell of the recorder on your shoe--and you have to start blowing earlier than everybody else in the consort in order to have the note come out on time. It's heavy as all get out, and it doesn't sound nearly as good as it ought to.

Or that's what Dave keeps saying. But we all know he's trying to prevent himself from wanting one of his own.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 3, 2002 04:59 PM