minstrel: Period Instruments

Robin Hayes rhayes at powerup.com.au
Thu Sep 18 20:32:12 PDT 1997

At 00:00 18/09/97 -0400, Alexandria Long wrote:
>> -Elisabeth  (cozit@@apexgrp.com)
>Explore your recorder. Even though you can buy a plastic model for 5 bucks
>doesn't mean it's dispensible. (Not inferring yours is cheap, just an
>example. Many people overlook a recorder.)
>I carry mine in a leather case on a belt. It makes people say, "Wow,
>that's neat, what is it? Oh, it's a recorder." But then, they come up to
>me later...what was that you were playing? it was really cool! 
>You see, there is much more you can do with it besides play baroque and
>rennaisance sheet music. there is the standard of playing Scottish and
>Irish tunes---sliding notes on a recorder is really cool. The recorder is
>MUCH more versitile than a pennywhistle. 

HEY!... :-) 

I agree if you are talking about those cheap and nasty little 12 inch or
less metal ones. The recorder is only more versatile if you don't know the
tricks of playing the little beastie! :-) And sliding notes gives a better
sound (with guaranteed no squarks cause in a diatonic instruments, all the
notes you can get are in the scale) with a whistle than a recorder, unless
the recorder player is very proficient.

But there are some good ones about. You can check with places like Lark in
the Morning (has a web site) for wooden 6 hole diatonic ones (in the little
size) -- and don't forget the 3 hole tabor pipe!

Now for my real "argument"! I have some "double size" "fipple flutes". They
are an octave lower. These ones are metal, but you can get them in wood. I
plan to make my own when I get my workshop organised. And they are
demonstratably earlier in period than the chromatic "recorders". People who
hear me play them often just have to ask "Just WHAT are you playing?"
because they sound like a modern flute in the lower register, and
exceptionally sweet in the upper octave - much sweeter than the shorter
pennywhistles at the same pitch. 

The modern flute eventually (OOP) grew out of the "flauto traverso" of
period. The thing called a "flute" in period (and earlier periods than when
the recorder existed under that name) was a "fipple flute" and now in its
metal form, became the "penny whistle" called so not because it cost a
penny to buy, but because (OOP) the professional player was given a penny
to play all night at the dances - in the days when a penny was a lot of
money: weekly wages being only a shilling (12 pence) or two.

It seems that diatonic rather than chromatic instruments were quite popular.

And the modern chromatic "recorder" as you have it today is mostly really
OOP from its theory of construction... Also the modern ones are "even
tempered" not "just tempered" as most of the early period instruments were.
The "Well Tempered Klavier" was written to help promote the "even
temperment" political cause... :-) But the difference is mostly unnoticed
unless playing with modern "even tempered" instruments.

>And then there's the dance. No,
>not the SCA line dancing with Hole in the Head, etc., but middle eastern
>dancing. Improvisation all the way, never do the same thing twice, and you
>are VERY much appreciated by ALL. No more ignoring the simple, boring,
>cheap children's toy we call a recorder.
>---Ceara ni Neill

And I have done all that with the "fipple flutes" - whistles. The belly
dancers  seemed to enjoy the music (played pentatonic improv stuff).

Not having a go at you, really!

Just don't ignore the (diatonic 6 hole) whistle either! :-) Well, in period
they were called "flutes", actually... :-)


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 But the Fool doth oft abuse the Wisdom of the Wise.
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