Compiled by Nicholas S. Lander
About the Webmaster
Nicholas S. Lander
My interest in music of the distant past has centred largely on the recorder, though I have played a number of renaissance wind instruments as well as the trombone. In the past I have taught recorder privately and at several tertiary institutions.
The Word on the Street
The great German recorder epidemic, reinventing the recorder, 1925–1950, by Paul Ehrlich (2021)
In this Essay, Robert Ehrlich examines the origins, spread, and consequences of the “recorder epidemic” in 1930s Germany. In the final years of the Weimar Republic, the recorder was reinvented as a simplified, “organic” instrument suitable for mass-production, then marketed as a Volksblockflöte, or “people’s recorder,” after the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933. By the end of the decade, inexpensive school recorders had emerged “triumphal” as a familiar symbol of the indoctrination of children in the Hitler Youth. Several passionate advocates of the recorder, forced into exile as Jewish refugees, brought their dedication to the instrument with them. Thus redeemed from association with the horrors of the “Third Reich,” the school soprano recorder came to be adopted internationally after the War in elementary music education.
Outstanding New Recording: Twelve fantasias for solo recorder by Rodney Waterman (Australia)
Each fantasia – 10 for recorder, 2 for Swedish folk flute – seeks to imagine/recall, with the help of carefully selected digital reverb, the atmosphere and ambience of a particular venue where Rodney has performed and/or experienced. His 12 fantasias were recorded at home in Melbourne (Australia) between 13–23 October 2020, at a time of significant restriction on movement and association due to Covid-19 regulations. One new fantasia was recorded each day for 12 consecutive days, using 12 different instruments, six of them by the late Fred Morgan. An enthusiastic review of Rodney’s CD by Tom Bickley is available here: American Recorder, Fall 2021: 44-45.
Regime change in the recorder: Using Navier–Stokes modeling to design a better instrument
Blowing a recorder at a low to moderate blowing speed with the toneholes all closed yields the lowest note in the range of the instrument. As the blowing speed is increased, the tone abruptly changes to the tone an octave higher. This “jump” in the frequency of the dominant spectral component of the tone is referred to as “regime change.” Recorder players have observed that regime change seems to occur at a significantly lower blowing speed for bass recorders than for instruments that sound an octave or more higher. This paper examines regime change in the recorder and uses Navier–Stokes modeling to confirm and study differences in the behavior of different instruments in the recorder family. This study shows the regime change threshold in a model of the bass recorder can be increased by changing the geometry in the vicinity of the labium. These results are then confirmed through experimental studies of real recorders with designs inspired by the modeling results. The insights gained from these results suggest new recorder designs that may produce instruments that in some respects are more playable than current instruments.