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Recorder Thread!


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#4171 Zixi

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 15:18

Right, so I've gone from 'slightly perplexed' at the Kristine West cover to rofl at Stefan Temmingh... I can't help thinking of all kinds of apt music he could have on *that* album... And, to go further, he has some extremely strange covers to his other albums... One could play one of those: "Make up a Caption" games for those.


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#4172 old_and_grumpy

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Posted Yesterday, 12:56

I've been having what might be called bad recorder days lately, and I have a question some of you might be able to answer.

The reason I started playing recorder was that it offered simplicity: no mucking about with reeds, no complicated system of levers and rods and pads that can so easily go out of alignment.  My trusty Aulos Haka absolutely lived up to its promise in that respect.  Maybe I should have just stuck with it: I have not found a suitable replacement as an "all seasons" instrument.  

I'm now wondering if it's even possible to do so.  I have a collection of plastic and wooden tenors, none of which quite offers what the Haka did.  The plastic ones are all okay, but I don't love any of them.  They are all very bright and shiny and have a bit of a cheap look to them which the Haka, though unmistakably plastic (and very cheap for a decent quality musical instrument), managed to avoid.  Being as objective as possible, I also think they sound a bit strident compared to the wooden ones.  I like all my wooden instruments, but sometimes I find them incredibly frustrating - they seem to almost have moods, and some days they are not in a good one.  Even at the best of times, I struggle to play the high notes on one of them, and the low notes on a different one.  

My most recent acquisition is the Moeck Renaissance tenor I bought a few months ago.  I have really enjoyed playing it: very sparingly at first, as I followed the playing-in instructions to the letter, but quite a lot lately (probably a couple of hours most days). I was starting to think of it as a Haka-replacing daily workhorse, and then it all seemed to go wrong.  Almost overnight, it went difficult, with some of the notes harder to hit, and a tendency to go hoarse very quickly.  I have cleaned it and oiled it etc but the situation hasn't improved a lot: I got really fed up yesterday and switched to one of the plastic ones which, relatively, was like a dream to play - easy to blow, easy to hit all the notes.  I didn't bother warming it up or anything, just picked it up and started blowing.  Fantastic!

And that brings me (finally) to my question: how long, in terms of both in a single sitting and frequency, could one reasonably expect to play a wooden recorder for?  Are there features that might make an instrument playable for longer?  The Moeck Renaissance, for instance, has quite a narrow windway which probably makes alignment more critical and would presumably be more prone to clogging, whereas the Kobliczek I have has quite a wide windway and has been my least temperamental wooden instrument.  It would probably be my daily instrument if it wasn't so wobbly on the low notes.  Does a general purpose wooden instrument actually exist, or is the reality that you need a selection and/or to make use of the plastic ones so that the wooden ones get a chance to rest?

Unless it picks up after a break, I will send the Renaissance tenor back to Moeck for adjustment - maybe it needs it on the basis of having settled a bit.  Sigh!


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#4173 AdLibitum

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Posted Yesterday, 16:14

I have no knowledge in thus area, so this is a long shot, but could the recent heatwave and now the high humidity have affected it?
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#4174 katyjay

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Posted Yesterday, 16:33

Yes, the heat and humidity could be upsetting them, plus you may be over-playing them. None of mine will go more than about 3 hours without getting hoarse, so if I am doing a marathon session I will swap to a reserve instrument. (The great and contra, I don't have reserves, of course, but more than a couple of hours on either and I'm tired out anyway).
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#4175 old_and_grumpy

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Posted Yesterday, 18:08

Thanks for the suggestions - the humidity could be an issue (we haven't had the heatwave).

 

katyjay: if you played an instrument till it went hoarse and swapped to another, would it be ok next day? - or is there a cumulative effect?  Most days I try to put in 2 or 3 hours, usually a single chunk of time late afternoon/early evening, so I'm wondering if it's just too much to ask of a single wooden instrument.  I think in one of her videos Sarah Jeffery says she still uses her plastic yamaha to practise some of the basics, so maybe that is what I need to do.

 

Re the humidity, it's always damp here, and I wonder if that has an effect on wooden recorders in general because I have noticed that in both my Moeck recorders, the block has become incredibly loose.  I can't make much sense of that - the only theory I have come up with is that the wood of the recorder has swelled more than the wood of the block and that has had the effect of making the block loose.  I'm no expert but the block in the Renaissance model doesn't look like cedar which one would perhaps expect to absorb more water than the body.


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#4176 katyjay

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Posted Yesterday, 18:50

I don't know, I'm afraid. I seldom have epic sessions on back to back days all on the same size instrument. I suspect it would be better to give a hoarse instrument a day off to recover.
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#4177 old_and_grumpy

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Posted Yesterday, 19:39

That makes sense I suppose.  I saw Sarah Jeffery's interview with Michala Petri and she practised for a phenomenal number of hours as a child: presumably she either had a big box of recorders to play with or used plastic ones for much of the time.  I wish you could get a really nice plastic tenor!


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#4178 elemimele

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Posted Yesterday, 20:26

Dorothee Oberlinger, who also practised a phenomenal number of hours as a child, had one of those cheap varnished recorders as her first instrument. Her mother bought two, one for each of them, as a musical experience. She enjoyed it so much she wore the varnish off round the holes, but she still has it (I saw a lovely interview with her once; it's somewhere on YouTube but I've never found it since).


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#4179 Zixi

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Posted Today, 05:24

I don't push the wooden ones for longer than an hour. I very rarely practise with them. I see a difference between practise and performance. So when I practise (ie go carefully over a piece and repeat ad nauseam) I use the plastic ones. If I 'perform' then I never correct - just play and reflect afterwards. I've always done that even when performance was 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'. katyjay has really surprised me and made me realise I'm probably being too gentle! So thank you katyjay!!!

 

I'd assume the problem with wood is moisture content and it will be prey to atmosphere. I've seen that in my mechanical wooden clocks - they can go miles fast or slow depending on the weather... Atmosphere can make a really big difference to wood. The right conditions and wood can swell enormously... I've also assumed that professional recorder players have a big stack of recorders... Otherwise I assume they'd wear them out fairly rapidly... Surely, the wood would complain about being subjected to moisture and drying out? Ebony would be more tolerant but... it's still wood... Interestingly, Bernolin thinks one of the roles of his plastic recorders is as a practice instrument for professional players...

 

Re - a nice plastic tenor, I really sympathise... Zen-on make interesting recorders... I have their treble. They charge silly prices for plastic though.... They've got a name somehow and that's always a dangerous thing for ego...


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#4180 old_and_grumpy

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Posted Today, 09:45

I take my hat off to people who can play lots of different recorders with different fingerings and different finger spacing, not to mention sight reading different clefs etc, but trying to do that would be more strain than my limited capabilities could take.  I find that if I've played one instrument for a while and switch to another I slightly miss the holes, and while some are fussier than others, it often doesn't take a miss of more than a hair's breadth to convert a note into a howl.  For that reason, I thought maybe it would be a good idea (actually, as put forward a while ago by elemimele) to concentrate on a single instrument and get really familiar and comfortable with it.  It looks like that's probably impossible in the recorder world unless you either stick mainly to plastic or have a bunch of, say, Rottenburghs and rotate them. 

 

Zixi: I think I will have to follow your advice and differentiate between practising and performing.  I don't really do that - I go over difficult sections of a piece which I suppose constitutes practice.  I occasionally do scales, but I'm not very disciplined about that.  I mainly play pieces, a mixture of ones I like and try to get better at, and ones where I'm working through stuff (mainly the baroque and renaissance anthologies) for the sake of doing them whether I like them or not, but I suppose the latter constitutes practice and the former performance.  (I like "performance" - I'm going to stick with that!) 

 

If I do the more basic stuff on one of the plastic instruments and save the wooden ones for performance :) that will hopefully save the wooden ones from overuse.  I still have the fingering problem which I really noticed when switching from the Renaissance tenor to the plastic Aulos: not so bad for, say, low register F where omitting 7 just leaves the intonation a bit off, but dire for F# which causes it to shriek with pain.  Maybe I'll get  used to it!

 

I was searching around for a bit of additional info on this and I came across an old forum thread (here https://forums.abrsm...showtopic=37755) which covers the probably often-trod ground of whether the recorder is an easier than average instrument to learn to play.  If the thread wasn't so ancient, I'd be straight in there to confirm from experience that it positively is not.

 

Anyway, thanks for all your thoughts.


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#4181 andante_in_c

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Posted Today, 12:59

I'll just add my two-penn'oth here and say that I have far more clogging problems with my tenors than with any other sized recorder, to the extent that I struggle to play my favourite wooden tenor for more than 30 minutes. I'm not sure of the reason why, but each of the wooden tenors I have bought has the same issue.


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#4182 old_and_grumpy

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Posted Today, 15:56

Curiouser and curiouser - I wonder why that should be.  It's not something I have experienced as I can play all of mine for a couple of hours, just not every day.  In fact I've been playing my plastic Aulos this afternoon and it seems to clog worse than any of the wooden ones.


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