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recorder


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(Fr. flûte à bec; Ger. Blockflöte; It. flauto diretto; Sp. flauta de pico).

Woodwind instr. of ancient lineage, made without reed. Forerunner of the fl., but end‐blown through a whistle‐mouthpiece. In medieval times, the recorder was known under the Lat. name fistula, hence ‘fipple‐flute’. It had 7 finger‐holes in front and a thumbhole behind, and a beak‐shaped mouthpiece. The antiquity of the instr. is hard to determine because its playing position is so like that of similar instr. (other whistle types), that contemporary illustrations are of little help. But it has been est. as being in existence in the 12th cent., although the word ‘recorder’ first appeared in a document in 1388. A recorder tutor was pubd. in Venice, 1535. By the 15th cent. there were several sizes of recorder. Praetorius lists 8, i.e. great bass, quint bass, bass, ten., alto, 2 sop., sopranino. Thus, recorder consorts were a common feature of Renaissance mus. life. The instr. has been widely revived in the 20th cent. both as an easy instr. for children and as part of the revival in performing early mus. on authentic instr. Modern composers have written for it e.g. Britten, Arnold Cooke, and Rubbra. The most common size today is the descant (sop.), but there are also sopranino, treble (alto), ten., and bass.

Subjects: Music.


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