It is difficult to document the recorder's early history due to the
inability to positively identify what is and what is not a recorder in
medieval art. Perhaps the earliest portrayal is an eleventh-century carving
on a stone pillar in the church at Boubon-l'Achambault, St George, France.
For more information on the early recorders, see Nicholas Lander's medieval
|Musica Antiqua has a set of medieval recorders built
by John Hanchet according to iconographical sources and drawing upon the
construction characteristics of central European folk recorders. They are
made of plumwood with a removeable windcap and foot of boxwood. The tone
quality is full and richly textured, making them suitable for solo monophonic
pieces as well as mixed ensemble typical of medieval polyphony.
click image for short wav of the garklein recorder
Branle - dance tune
In the Renaissance the recorder had its own instruction manual: Ganassi's Opera Intitulata Fontegara (Venice, 1535). The author bases much of the recorder technique and tone quality on attempts to imitate the human voice. Fingering charts extending to two and one-half octaves, and complex exercises demonstrating the technique of improvisation allow one to conclude that recorder playing had achieved a high level of accomplishment. Praetorius gives eight different sizes of recorders from the sopranino in f2 to the great bass in c. He prefers the soft, sweet and pleasant harmony of the lower instruments, finding the sound of the smaller ones much too loud and piercing.
Renaissance recorders differ from Baroque recorders in that they
have a larger bore which gives a stronger low register, making them better
suited for blend and ensemble playing. Recorders from this period generally
have smaller range than the Baroque recorders.
|Musica Antiqua's Renaissance recorders include replicas by
Willi Hopf of Germany including a garklein in c3, two sopraninos in f2,
a soprano in c2, an alto in f1, a tenor in c1, a tenor in c1 with a fontanelle,
a bass in f with a fontanelle, and a great bass in c with fontanelle..
These sycamore maple recorders by Hopf were reconstructed according to
instruments preserved in various museums from the period of Praetorius,
and according to the instruments depicted by Praetorius. Also in the collection
are a maple alto in f1 by Von Huene and a bubinga wood contrabass in c
with fontanelle by Kueng of Switzerland. Hermann Moeck models include a
sopranino in f2, a soprano in c2, an alto in f1, a tenor in c1 with fontanelle,
and a bass in f with fontanelle.