Recorder Home Page
Instrument of Torture or Instrument of Music?
by Nicholas S. Lander
There are now very many recordings of recorder playing available. Reference
to these can be found in the various trade catalogues available from record
stores. Comprehensive indexes (by title, perfomer, composer) to more than 13,000
LPs, MCs and CDs featuring the recorder may be accessed via Recorded
Perhaps the best introduction remains David Munrow's The Art of the
Recorder issued by EMI as a boxed set on vinyl with a most informative
booklet. These records illustrate the various historical uses of the recorder
with musical examples ranging from the medieval period to contemporary avant
State-of-the-art consort playing can be heard in the work of the Amsterdam
Loeki Stardust Quartet and the Flanders Recorder Quartet, both of which have
produced many CDs, and on Landscapes, a truly remarkable multi-tracked CD
from the Italian virtuoso David Bellugi.
The recorder has long been featured in recordings of popular music including
- Don Juan Band (USA), Girl from Impenema, on which Don Fortner (aka Don Juan) plays recorder.
- Charles Fambrough (USA), Keeper of the Spirit album
- Keith Jarrett (USA), Spirits album. ECM 1333/34 829 467-2.
- Jugularity (Australia), Jugularity album on which Tony Bannister
& Ernie Gruner play recorders
- Horst Geldmacher (Germany). In his book Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (2006) [Peeling an Onion] Gunther Grass recalls his time as a member of a jazz trio with the artist and recorder player Horst Geldmacher. Like Ade Monsbourgh (Australia), Geldmacher must have been one of the first performers who used the recorder for jazz music.
- Roland Kirk (USA)
- Eddie Marshall (USA), jazz drummer & recorder player
- Lazy Ade Monsbourgh (Australia)
- Jean-François Rousson (France), Spinnaker album
- Respectable Groove (UK), Respectable Groove album, with recorder
players Andrew Collis, Katrina Koski, Barbara Law & Evelyn Nallen
- Benoît Sauvé (France)
- Nadja Schubert (Germany), Recorder and bass, Nadja,
Changing & We will meet again albums
- Rodney Waterman (Australian), Agua e Vinho album
- Wooden O (UK), Wooden O album, with recorder players James Harpham
& Christopher Taylor
- Clea Galhano (US), Circolo Magico and Distribution of
- Benoît Sauvé (France)
- Rodney Waterman (Australia), Agua e Vinho album
Pop, Rock, Heavy Metal, etc.
- Alan Parsons Project (UK), Eve album (1979), ? Winding me up
on which the recorder player was probably Alan Parsons himself
- Amazing Blondel (UK).
Terence Alan Wincott was the recorder player.
- Aquarium (Russia), Navigator and The Favorite Songs Of Ramses The IV albums, on which Oleg Sakmarov plays recorder
- The Ashqelon Quilt (Israel), The Event album on which Sharon Rinat
plays soprano recorder on The Event and alto recorder on One By
- Association (USA), Renaissance album, on which the bittersweet
ballad No Fair at All, inspired musically by the 1940s tune Return
To Paradise, features recorder; Insight Out album, on which
Windy (1967) features recorder; and the And Then, Along Comes The
Association album, on which Along Comes Mary (1966) features recorder; on
all three tracks the soprano recorder player is Terry Kirkman.
- Kate Bush (UK), Lionheart album, Oh England My Lionheart in
which Kate herself and Richard Harvey played recorders.
- The Beatles (UK), Fool on the Hill in which Paul McCartney was the
recorder player. Apple/EMI 7243 8 34448 2 3, 1996.
Night. Although both guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Candice Night
have worked with bands such as Deep Purple, their style has featured acoustic
renaissance dance music since their first album Shadow of the Moon. The
recorder player is multi-instrumentalist Chris Devine.
- Blood Sweat and Tears (USA) with whom Jerry Hyman played recorder
- Bonzo Dog Band (UK), whose single I'm the Urban Spaceman feature
- Folk–rock band Iron & Wine (), The Trapeze Swinger (included in various albums, 2005-2009), in which a recorder is heard in the final riff.
- Jimmy Buffett (USA), Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
album, on which Billy Puet plays recorder in Margaritaville.
- The Carpenters, ? Sing a Song
- Cream (USA), Wheels of Fire album, on which Jack Bruce plays
- King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King album, Dance of
the Puppets in which Ian McDonald plays recorder
- Bob Dylan, Live at Budokan album (1978) on which Steve Douglas plays recorder
- El and the Weannies (Netherlands), with whom El plays recorder
- Falling Leaves (UK)
- Frente! (Australia), Marvin the Album (1992) on which drummer Mark Picton plays recorder in Labour of Love
- Gnidrolog, Lady Lake album (1972) and Gnosis album (2000) on both of which the recorder player was Colin Goldring who also featured as a guest artist with Yes (see below).
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience (UK), Axis: Bold As Love (1967) album,
If 6 Was 9 – the classic Easy Rider anthem in which Hendrix
himself improvises wildly on 'flute'. Reprise Records (LP, 1968), reissued as
MCA Records MCAD-11671 (CD, 1998). The high tessitura, the typical 'breaking'
between octaves, and other characteristics are more suggestive of a soprano
recorder. On the track notes Hendrix says "That's me on the flute", but
possibly some record company executive decided that recorder was too uncool to
name, so they just put "flute" (Rodney Waterman, pers. comm., 2002). Indeed Vanderford
(2000) describes the instrument concerned as a recorder. However, another
commentator describes Hendrix' instrument as "flute indienne qu'il a acheté
pour 2 shillings" – see here. The
authority for both claims is unclear. You can hear a mercifully brief excerpt
and judge for yourself here.
- John Holm (Swedish), Ett enskilt rum på Sabbatsberg / För att va oss spå / Frågor, which can be heard here. Single LP TIBETT TS3 (1972). The recorder, which can be heard prominently after the introduction of the first side (A Private Room at the Sabbatsberg Hospital), is played by Stefan Golvig.
- Mary Hopkin (UK), Postcard album (1969) on which The Game
featured recorder players Jeanne & Marguerite Dolmetsch; Brian, Christine,
Paul & Peter Blood
- Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine
- Jars of Clay, with recorder player Sam Levine
- Jefferson Airplane (USA), Surrealistic Pillow album, Comin' back
to me in which tenor recorder is played by either Grace Slick or Marty
- Jethro Tull, Aqualung album, on which recorders are played by Ian Anderson and Martin Barre in Mother Goose
- Joe Jackson, played recorder on a late night talk show a few years ago
discussing How the West Was Won
- Billy Joel, 52nd Street album, Rosalinda's Eyes, with
recorder player George Marge; Cold Spring Harbor.
- Cyndi Lauper (USA), plays recorder on Twelve Deadly Cyns (1995) album
- Annie Lennox (USA), Diva album, on which Peter-John Vettese plays
- Led Zeppelin (UK), Stairway to Heaven, the most played song in
radio history, features a recorder consort in which the instruments are all
played by John Paul Jones by overdubbing.
- Manfred Mann (UK), As Is (1966) album, Trouble and Tea,
Semi-detached suburban Mr James (Klaus Voorman was the recorder player)
- Mannheim Steamroller (USA), all 7 Fresh Air albums, Holiday
Musik and Holiday Musik II albums on which recorder is played
variously by Chip Davis, Eric Hansen & Roxanne Layton
- Pell Mell (Germany), Marburg album (1972), in which Rudolph Schon
plays recorder on the title track; and Rhapsody album (1975), on which
Rudolph Schon plays recorder in Wanderer, a quiet acoustic ballad with
recorder accompaniment, recalling Led Zeplin's Stairway to Heaven.
- Rolling Stones (UK)
- All Sold Out and Ruby Tuesday (1966), Brian Jones was the
recorder player. Ruby Tuesday was recorded in Olympic Studios in
November, 1966 and was released in January, 1967 on the B-side of Let's
Spend The Night Together. It spent twelve weeks in both the U.K. and
U.S. charts, reaching the number one spot in the U.S. In her autobiography,
Marianne Faithfull refers to Ruby Tuesday as Jones' swan song and
recalls the recording session when it was conceived: "Brian . . . played a
folkish, nursery rhyme melody on the recorder. It was nothing more than a
wispy tune, but it caught Keith's attention . . . he had heard a riff and
went at it like a dog with a bone . . . it was really Brian and Keith's song
… I'd noticed that this song had taken on an almost desperate
significance for Brian. This collaboration between Keith and him was to be
the last, and perhaps he could sense that. He knew it was one of the best
things he'd ever done …" (Faithful & Dalton, 1995).
- Something Happened to Me Yesterday (1967), supposedly about Mike
Jagger's first experience with LSD, Keith sings and Brian Jones plays the
recorder while Bill Wyman fingers it in a crude parody of those delicately
suggestive 18th-century paintings and porcelain figurines (eg Boucher) in
which a pretty shepherdess blows a recorder whilst a shepherd fingers the
notes for her. See here.
- Melanie Safka, Born to Be album (1968) on which Mr Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan) has a haunting
recorder solo that fades into the distance at the end of this arrangement
- Bon Scott (Australia), vocalist, recorder & timbala player of
"bubble-gum" 60s rock music with 'The Spektors', 'The Valentines' and
'Fraternity', later leader of 'AC/DC', died tragically in 1980. See here and there (video).
- John B. Sebastian – She's a lady
- Bruce Springsteen (USA), 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), studio
version, from The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle album on
which Springsteen himself played recorder
- Van Morrison (Ireland / USA), Days Like This album (1995) on which Perfect Fit and Ancient Highway include recorder playing by Teena Lyle; Too Long in Exile album (1993) on which Before the World Was Made includes recorder playing by Teena Lyle.
- Vanity Fair (UK), whose single Hitchin' a Ride (1969) has an intro featuring recorders
- Wings (UK), with recorder players Jeanne & Marguerite Dolmetsch;
Brian, Christine, Paul & Peter Blood
- Roy Wood (UK) played recorder with The Move and The Electric Light
Orchestra, Curly, The Words Of Aaron, No Time
- Yes (UK), The Yes Album (1971) on which guest artist Colin Goldring is the recorder player in I've Seen All Good People: Your Move. Goldring is better known for his own band, Gnidrolog (see above).
- Mick Ronson, glam-rock guitarist, producer and arranger played multi-tracked recorders on David Bowie's Life on Mars? and on Lou Reed's Satellite of Love
- Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum played recorders on the track Boredom on their third album, A Salty Dog
- Roy Wood from The Move played recorder frequently on their albums
- Steve Page of the Barenaked Ladies played the recorder in Helicopters on their Maroon album
- Lauri Õunapuu, recorder-playing member of the Estonian band Metsatöll (Estonia)
- Capercaillie (Scotland), Sidewaulk and Crosswinds albums on
which Marc Duff plays recorder
- Fairport Convention (UK), with whom Judy Dyble played recorder
- Gryphon (UK), recorder player Richard Harvey
- Shirley Jacobs (Australia)
- Benoît Sauvé (France)
- Emma Christian (UK), native Manx Gaelic singer and folk artist, plays the recorder in place of the more traditional tin whistle
- Jowan Merckx (Germany), plays many recorders and also whistles in folkgroup Amorroma
- Carlos Núñez (Spain), master of Galician traditional music, plays bagpie and recorders
- Nicholas Gunn (USA)
- Hans-Jürgen Hufeisen (Germany)
- Karl Jenkins', Adiemus, Songs of Sanctuary and Imagined
Oceans albums, on which Pamela Thorby (UK) is the recorder player
- Volker Leiß (Germany)
- Brad White (USA)
- Minchung Wu (USA).
- David Young (USA)
© Copyright 1996-2013, N.S. Lander
Webmaster: Nicholas S.