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Recorder Thread!


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#4231 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 08:36

I found myself reading an article about Adriana Breukink yesterday.  I knew her only as the maker of the world's largest recorder - I didn't realise she is keen on improving the recorder.  I have never looked closely at the Adri's Dream recorder, but I see on the tenor, which has keys for the bottom notes, that both C and C# look as if they have "proper" holes.  I have 3 tenors that have keys, but they all more-or-less replicate the double finger hole of a keyless instrument: the Moeck and the Yamaha both have a single hole that is only partially closed by the C# key; the Aulos has separate holes but they are small and close together.  All three have a pretty poor C# (as I grumbled about several posts ago).

 

Has anyone tried the Dream?  If so, does it have a better C#?  It looks as if it should, and that seems like quite a good plan to me: if you're having keys anyway to enable the hole(s) to be placed out of reach, why not locate them in a good position rather than one essentially dictated by the requirements of a keyless instrument?

 

There is no information on her website about the Dream, so I presume she doesn't make them herself any more.  Her Eagle also has keys and what look like decently proportioned lower holes, and she does claim a good F# for the alto.  Mollenhauer's Modern and Helder models also have them, though these and the Eagle are all much more expensive than the Dreams.  Not that I ever get the chance anyway, but I presume the days of being able to try out wind instruments are unfortunately over for the foreseeable future.


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#4232 elemimele

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 11:05

Well, the Eagle has been extensively used by Piers Adams who has more skill and artistry in his left little toe-nail than I have in my entire body. He's no bad recommendation. I'm not sure it's a recorder for general consumption; I gather it's very loud, part of Adriana Breukink's aim being to make it more able to be heard in ensembles and small orchestras. Therefore perhaps less appropriate for use alone in a small terraced house such as mine. I think she's got a point; I've grumbled before about recordings of Vivaldi by really professional groups, using top-notch soloists, where you really only hear the soloist occasionally when the violins let them get a peep in edgeways. The traditional recorder really comes up against its limitations in these situations. 

 

As a theoretical matter, the low-but-not-lowest notes of a recorder are always going to be a bit of an issue. In the manufacture of organ pipes (which are basically recorders without the holes) one way to tune them is to cut a slot at the top of the pipe (far end from the mouth) and roll back the metal inside the slot, a bit like you'd open a tin of sardines. Rolling back further makes more slot which raises the pitch, straightening the tongue of metal into the gap obscures the slot and lowers the pitch. But it's also known to affect the timbre of the pipe. Some builders used it deliberately with that in mind (Cavaillé-Coll), others avoided it when they didn't want it, but would deliberately make different timbres by putting a hole nearly at the far end, when they wanted (Schulze's echo-oboe, for example). But the point is, if you have a completely closed tube, right to the end (recorder's lowest note) it sounds different to a tube with a hole or slot near the end (next note up on a recorder) and that's just a feature of acoustics. I'd love to know more about what good recorder makers do to influence timbre of notes - but I notice my cheap aulos has quite a different timbre for F and G. Maybe it's just how they are.


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#4233 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 12:38

Thanks for the insight into the effect on timbre.  I believe - possibly incorrectly; feel free to correct this - that one of the issues with recorders is the smallness of the holes.  In a modern flute, the holes are big enough that uncovering them effectively shortens the tube to the point where the first open hole is, and closing holes further down doesn't (in theory at least) make any difference.  Because the recorder's holes are much smaller, the holes further down do have some effect, so closing them pulls the pitch down, thus making a chromatic scale possible with only 8 holes.  I suppose it would all be better if we had 12 fingers.  Since we haven't, the only way to pull the D down to C# is to partially cover C's hole, which means the note is based on a hole even smaller than the already less than ideal hole sizes of the other notes.  I would have thought that the general fragility of C# could be overcome by having normal (for a recorder) sized holes in appropriate places, which would be impossible to cover with a single finger, but could be covered with a key mechanism.  Is that the case do you know?  I don't say the timbre would be ideal, just that the note would be more robust, which is presumably part of what Adriana Breukink is aiming for. 

 

Oddly, on the Moeck Renaissance tenor, the bottom C is quite a good note, whereas bottom D is weak and has quite a different timbre.  I don't know why.  Maybe the constraints of reach mean the hole is poorly placed, though maybe it's more to do with the acoustics of the beast - as you say, maybe that is just how they are.


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#4234 Zixi

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 16:32

I've got Adri's Dream in sparkly red plastic and a wooden one with a plastic head... both descant. My husband gave me them for Christmas a little while back. He didn't know which I'd prefer so bought me both. I like the sparkly red one because it's sparkly and red. They are louder than my other recorders and they're great fun to play. I really like folk songs on them.

 

Breukink had some really interesting ideas on types of breathing. Once, it sounded as if there might be some science behind it but the last time I looked at her site, it had gone rather mystical perhaps because her explanations were too difficult for people to follow. I seem to remember that Piers Adams has commented on the theories behind her thinking but I can't remember where I read/heard it...


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