Additional Software edit

In order to follow this course, you will find it helpful if you have software capable of reading Adobe PDF files for musical scores, and a media player capable of playing MIDI files.

Introducing the recorder edit

As an introduction to the recorder, I recommend reading the Wikipedia article.

For a very short, but very well-written guide to playing the recorder this article in the H2G2 collection should prove helpful.

The name "recorder" may derive from an entry in the account books of Henry VIII of England, referring to a "fistula nomine ricordo", literally, "a pipe called a keepsake". In various parts of Europe it is known by other names:

  • France: Flûte a bec
  • Germany: Blockflöte
  • Italy: Flauto dolce or Flauto diritto (as opposed to the Flauto traverso or transverse flute)

It is also sometimes referred to as a "fipple" flute, a reference to the wooden block which occupies the upper end of the instrument and forms part of the embouchure.

Recorders vary in size, and with their size, the pitch of the instrument also varies. The most common sizes are:

Size Lowest note
Sopranino F
Soprano C'
Alto F
Tenor C
Bass 'F

The plan for this course includes musical examples for you to play as well as listen to. You are advised to learn to read western musical notation (refer to the Fundamentals of Music course module). Opinions vary about the importance of being able to read music. Perhaps the best analogy is with another very important human activity: cookery. Any cook can prepare a meal using only their experience, and knowledge of cookery, but a cook who can read a recipe can prepare a meal they might never have imagined, or tasted before. Written music is only the recipe for a musical meal. It is up to the performer (as the musical cook) to prepare the meal in a way that will leave everybody in the audience wanting just a little more.

As an introduction to reading music, see: Fundamentals of Music

Recorder: 1st lesson (breathing, problems that may arise)

Recorder: 2nd Lesson (notes in the lower octave, practice advice)