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Recorder Thread!


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#3856 Zixi

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 09:38

AdLibitum - I think that's where I was going - yes! :lol:

 

elemimele - I realised just *how* clever the bird imitation is when trying to play that piece. It's great for swapping between legato and staccato. It's been a really good lesson.

 

anacrusis - Is the citrus to the linseed for thinning?? or aesthetics? I imagine that building a recorder really must change your relationship with it as an instrument.


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#3857 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 11:44

Wow - take your eye off the ball and there's pages of activity all of a sudden - it's like waiting for a bus.

 

In no particular order:

 

I did think of going to Medieval Music in the Dales as I have a friend who lives there and thought I could combine a visit with MMITD.  However, the main activity this year seems to be singing, which is not my favourite thing, so I decided not to bother.  It's also quite close to Limerick Jazz Festival!  Please do report on what it's like though - I might go in a future year if it sounds good.

 

As I reported here at the time, I did Tim Cranmore's recorder course last year (and also hugely enjoyed it).  I was very slack and took no photos and made very few notes.  I wished I had done better afterwards, though someone else who did Tim's course put lots of info about it on line (here https://www.cantorac...er_making.shtml) so I have a sort of record of it.  Anacrusis: if you can post some photos somewhere, I'd love to see them, as well as any other info you can share about the work.  Some things are the same - when I did Jacqueline's maintenance course last year she had just done her version of the making course, and in fact she made me demonstrate the windway cutting machine to prove I'd been paying attention.  (Tim sells the machines.) On the other hand, some things are different, eg we did the foot joint first, after doing a few practice ones as turning skills development.  We also made a reamer which I thought was good, though we did not do some things you are doing I think.  I'd be interested to hear how you make the block, and whether that differs from Tim's method.

 

I would like to carry on and try my hand at making some more recorders.  Some things are quite difficult just from a practical point of view - it's hard to make a windway without some sort of cutter and they are no small investment, and it's surprisingly difficult to get hold of cedar for the blocks.

 

A question I can answer: Jacqueline uses the citrus oil because it smells nice!  And she's right, it smells great compared to basic linseed oil.  It's only 10% I think so probably wouldn't change the consistency much either way.  There's a bit of an opposing camps thing wrt oil: Tim and Daniel (runs Cambridge Makers) favour Tung oil because it dries; Jacqueline favours (non-boiled) linseed because it doesn't dry.  Sarah of team recorder favours non-drying but prefers almond oil.  Choices, choices!

 

For things like medieval oboes, if you are ever in Oxford, go to the Bate Collection.  It's free, the day I went I was the only person there, and it's like an Aladdin's cave of old instruments.  I thought they would have a few samples of woodwind instruments, but there were literally hundreds of them.  Recorders are not their biggest display item by a long way, but they do have a particularly good Bressan alto and some other instruments.  Sadly, you are not allowed to play them!  They sell plans though, and I duly purchased plans for the Bressan and Stanesby fourth flute.  Haven't quite made them yet!


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#3858 elemimele

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 13:13

Yes, on theory/tuning of recorders: I struggle completely to understand what's going on with harmonics etc. and the tuning of a pipe with holes in it. The Baroque recorder really is a very, very advanced piece of design; it may look like a tube with holes drilled in it, but those holes are soooo cleverly placed.

This is another thing with fluting: because you make the upper octaves by changing the shape of your mouth (basically blowing closer to the edge so that the air-stream is going faster as it hits the edge) it's easier to practice overblowing to harmonics. If you try it with the flute's bottom D, all holes closed, you can very easily make the octave, 12th, and 15th (two octaves) and the harmonics of a closed tube do what we all got taught in physics.

When you do it with other notes, it's really weird; some harmonics are difficult to make, or wildly the wrong note. In fact that's why the fingerings for C in the two octaves are different; the octave harmonic of the lower C doesn't seem to exist! So it's not always that fingerings were chosen for fine control of tuning, they also had to be chosen to find a note that actually plays, even if it's slightly off-pitch. All of which makes me realise how clever the hole placement on the recorder is. It's also fascinating how F and F# on a C instrument are influenced by the right-hand holes. Because a Baroque flute is sort-of similar to a C-recorder sawn off at D, with the little finger doing the job of half-holing with finger 6 on the recorder, there are less right-hand options to use when making forked fingerings, so it's harder to make an accurate F and F#. In some ways, comparing Baroque recorder and Baroque flute, it's hard to understand why people ever wanted to change to the flute - in many ways it's a lot less satisfactory (look how much it developed in its later life!).

 

Yes, I'm super-curious about the citrus oil. Chemically I think citrus oils contain antioxidants and radical-scavengers, which means I'd expect them to influence the hardening of the linseed oil, probably slowing the process?


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#3859 elemimele

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 13:13

Oh, sorry OaG, had missed your reply, thanks for comments on oils


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#3860 Zixi

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 14:22

I've mixed essential oils with some of the objects I've oiled or waxed. So I suppose in theory you could add other sweet smelling oils as long as they didn't change the integrity of the base oil. That's very interesting OaG!


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#3861 AdLibitum

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 15:30

OaG, I think the theme at MMITD is dance, not singing, this year. Which I admit doesn't interest me much, but I figured there should be enough of other stuff to keep me occupied.
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#3862 Zixi

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 16:42

Just taken a look at the site - it's Medieval Dance which might be very interesting and a lot of fun... Must admit both '22 and '23 sound like fun as well... There's a beginners' bagpipes...


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#3863 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 17:24

Oops, yes, dance, not sure why I thought singing - I would much rather sing than dance!  I think 22 sounds good indeed - instrument making no less.  A date for my diary I think.


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#3864 Zixi

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 18:13

And I'd prefer to dance... and everyone else would prefer that I danced too... 22 does sound very good indeed. However, '23 will appeal to any lit fans...


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#3865 AdLibitum

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 21:10

I too think '22 sounds very good. The great advantage of '20 over '22, though, is, well, that it is this year! :D
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#3866 Zixi

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 21:44

I too think '22 sounds very good. The great advantage of '20 over '22, though, is, well, that it is this year! :D

You don't say! :lol: I'll give you some Einstein... apparently he said something along the lines... "I never think about the future - it comes soon enough... " And if you go this year it doesn't rule out '22 or '23 (I'm seriously tempted by '23 because I think it will look in to the origins of English drama...) Whereas if you wait to '22 then it does kind of rule out '21... :whistling:


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#3867 anacrusis

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 00:24

hehe, I'm enjoying the exchanges about the mediaeval dance/music... 

 

today we cut the labium, and carved blocks - the former felt rather scary to do but was fun, the latter was rather therapeutic :) . Jacqueline tidied up the rough bits for me and did the final tricky scalpel cuts on the labium, which curves very slightly to be parallel to the curve in the windway: lots of peering down the head to see how the light falls, making sure that the labium is evenly shaped. At this stage the beak shape hasn't been cut yet - that comes after block making. The labium is cut slightly narrower than its final dimensions will be, to start with - if it turns out too wide then the recorder will sound breathy. It's fiddly work with chisel and scalpel, but I've carved before so wasn't as worried about handling them as I had been about the lathe. There is another pupil on the course with me, and he's also done the Tim Cranmore one before so I was interested to hear what he had to say about the block construction. Jacqueline first of all turns a cylinder of cedar wood (it smells wonderful!) to a diameter which is bigger than the bore of the head. She then measures how long the block actually needs to be, marks that on the cylinder, and reduces the waste ends of it down to the same bore as the head - it's narrower at one end than at the other. She decides which way round the block will go based on the grain of the wood - carving it is easier in one direction than it is in the other. Then the really tricky bit of block making starts - she marks two lines along it, slightly wider than the windway is, and carves along these to make the top of the block. The turnings at either end provide guidance on how much the cylinder needs to be cut back to fit in the hole. One does a bit of carving at the end of the block which goes in first, taps the block in as far as it will go, and then can shine a light through the window, see any gaps (avoid cutting any more in that area if there are any) and on pulling the block out again, some of the wood goes shiny because it's been compressed. That tells us where it's too tight, and those bits are carved away before again tapping the block in, hopefully a little bit further. It's slow but rather meditative in a way. I had to go promptly at the end of the working day, so Jacqueline will have done the final bits of carving for me, but it was going quite well before I left and I'm excited to see what it looks like tomorrow. 

On the citrus oil - I know from the Sorel instruments I have already that it works well so presumably it doesn't affect the overall functionality. Jacqueline hates the smell of tung oil so can't bear to use it! 

I'm already very enthused by the process of making this recorder, and Zixi is right, it is already very much changing how I see the instrument. It would however be daunting to try to set oneself up to make them, as OaG points out - the windway cutting machine in particular is made by an engineer friend of Tim's and costs a couple of thousand pounds or so: the drill which did the finger holes is quite an old but ingenious contraption with dials, cogs and wee measuring scales allowing the piece to be moved relative to the drill, and also the drill to be tilted and moved around relative to the piece. Then there's the business of needing to make reamers - the pieces we started with were pre-bored so we didn't see that part of the construction at all, though apparently the bore sometimes needs re-reaming after construction as all the cutting will unsettle the wood and it'll change shape. Jacqueline is very skilled at all of this, and has spent decades learning how to fix recorder gremlins.

Apologies for waffling on here... tomorrow is tuning and once I've posted that I promise I'll try to be less verbose!


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#3868 elemimele

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:03

it's totally fascinating to hear. I'm always impressed by block making. I can see how you can make something accurately round on a lathe, but to make something that's accurately round on all parts except a bit sticking out on top that makes it impossible to turn... wow!

The other wow is the old 17th and early 18th C makers who were doing the whole process with very little mechanisation. I have no idea how they did it. Perhaps they had more failures? Or took much longer? Or were just stupendously skilled at handwork?


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#3869 Zixi

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 10:01

anacrusis - it's totally fascinating. I'm extremely grateful for the blow by blow account - I'll never do it myself because of the doggy. I agree over the smell of tung oil, I'm not mad about some of the other oils either! Any time I've used wax and oil, I've had to remember not to sand too highly or getting the wood to absorb the wax or oil is really difficult. It can slide off. I wonder how much experimentation has been done with other woods... I have to admit that put that kind of equipment in front of me and I'd be seeing what other woods actually do (and sound like).  Anyway, enjoy today - we'll look forward to our next instalment! :)

 

elemimele - It's likely a mixture of all the aspects you mention (which makes an easy cop out for me). I guess you've seen the primitive lathes in any case - worked by flexible branches. They're amazingly effective.


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#3870 Maizie

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 11:02

It all sounds most fabulous, and while my complete lack of experience in any form of woodworking (well, at least since 1990 at secondary school!) still puts me off, I can see what Saturday brings.

 

Maizie - how are things going with your teacher? We miss ours... a lot...

Good and not so.  Oh, no, that's sounds wrong.  Teacher is fabulous, me not so much - last lesson we decided we will continue to persevere with Fantasia 7, but we'd add Handel's A minor sonata to the list for something a bit 'easier'.  Unfortunately I've just cancelled next week's planned lesson - several days needed in the office next week, and my fatigue and motivation have nose-dived in the last couple of weeks.  This week, I've been sleeping between finishing work and dinner, which means a complete lack of practice.  Should have some blood test results in the next week or so to let me know if there is actually something wrong, or whether this is just the 'new normal' for me to work around (tentative plans in place for things if that is the case).

Have three versions of Fantasia 7 and Handel's A minor, so listening a lot even if I'm not playing.  Maybe I'll absorb some of it like oil :)


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