An Introduction to the Baroque Recorder

The recorder was a very prominent  instrument during the Early Music eras (Renaissance, Baroque, etc.) in both solo and ensemble playing.   It is simple enough in design--that is, a whistle-like mouthpiece attached to a long tube full of holes which must be covered and uncovered to produce differing tones.  There are seven holes plus one for the thumb.  Recorders can be constructed out of many types of wood (boxwood, rosewood, and maple are the most common) or even ABS plastic.  Debate rages over which type is better.

The recorder is often used as a learning or teaching instrument in classrooms, which is one of the reasons why I find it is so misunderstood at times.  When I tell anyone that I play the recorder, I usually get, "Oh, you mean those things that we played in elementary school?" or "Oh, yes, my son's class plays recorders also."  I've learned just to grin and bear it...

Not unlike other instruments, such as trombones, there are many different types of recorders, separated primarily by their range and size.  Recorders are subdivided into nine different types.   As a rule, the larger they get, the deeper voiced they get.  Modern day Baroque recorders are fingered in one of two ways.  These different fingerings are commonly referred to as simply "C" or "F" fingered.  When all the holes of the recorder are covered, if the note which sounds is a concert C, the recorder is said to be C fingered.  It is likewise with F.  This is so that the ranges of the different types of recorders overlap in a neat and orderly fashion for ease of ensemble playing.