I am one of a fair number of people in the world and a handful of people in Nigeria who have taken it upon themselves to truly unearth the capabilities of the recorder. And I can say this, because of my findings, I have been able to surprise people who either didn’t think much or thought little of this instrument.
I have already posted an article here on why the recorder has such a bad reputation. So permit me to show you what I see in the recorder and why it is so awesome.
WHAT MAKES THE RECORDER AN AWESOME MUSIC INSTRUMENT
The recorder may be a European instrument, but it sounds more universal. Its tone is such that it would go well with songs of African, Asian and Native American origins. Play it plainly, but with the right amount of breath, tonguing and fingering, and it can create some happy-sounding tones. This would sound great in genres like reggae and even afrobeat. Add some vibrato and you give it some emotional weight that is quite appealing in blues, afropop and especially Asian music.
How do I describe the tone of a recorder? It’s like jackfruit (if you’ve had jackfruit). Jackfruit has a taste that is like if a banana, an apple and/or a pineapple had a baby together. In that sense, I would describe the recorder; it’s not quite like a flute (not as breathy) but still has some elements of it, while having something of the mellow nature of a clarinet (this part is more obvious on the alto recorder than the soprano).
Its folky feel (aside from giving it a natural chemistry with the guitar) also gives it a wide range of what genres it can fit into, not just European classical and medieval music, but also pop, rock, jazz, soul, hip hop, and just about any genre of African, Native American and Asian music (as I mentioned earlier)
READ ALSO: A Recorder Player’s View on Modes
2. Glissandos, bends, slides
The recorder has this over the modern flute and to some extent the saxophone and clarinet. And it sounds so beautiful, emotional, almost sultry even, on a recorder.
3. Alternate fingerings
I cannot count how many times I’ve tried to figure out a fingering that works for trills on a recorder, only to get it right almost always. It seems every fingering has an alternate fingering. Sometimes it may just be a readjustment of the force of your breath and you’d end up getting a different note altogether.
Image Credit: Yamaha Recorder Fingering
4. Harmony (I’m not joking)
Yes, the recorder can be used to create two-note chords, whether by humming while playing, playing two recorders at the same time, or even by multiphonics (I don’t use this though, but I’ve seen recorder players use them) where two notes play without humming or a second recorder.
5. Ease of playing across all recorder parts
Are you a violinist? If you are, then answer me this, would you be able to play a cello at least almost as well as a violin? Well, recorders from garklein (the smallest) to sub bass recorders (the largest) are such that minus a few differences in fingering and the gaps between holes it is quite easy to transition from one to the other. I started with a soprano recorder more than a decade ago. I only got my alto last year and I can now play it as well as my soprano.
READ ALSO: How To Play the Recorder Tutorial
6. The surprise factor
I particularly love how it surprises people that;
a. the recorder can play all 12 major and minor scales of music
b. the recorder can play all modes, blues scale, pentatonic scale and even the chromatic scale
c. the recorder is capable of all the other things I mentioned above
It feels good that because of my efforts and the efforts of many over the world, the recorder is getting its rightful recognition. But there is still a way to go.
What do you think about these reasons? Does it cover it all or are there more I missed? Let me know in the comments. Thank you and keep moving forward.
Edikan Benson Abia (Fil Harmonix) is a performing recorder player and singer, producer, composer, video editor as well as a piano and recorder instructor. A graduate of the University of Port Harcourt with a B. Sc Biochemistry degree, he would later enroll into, and graduate from, the prestigious Tenstrings Music Institute. He has been a recorder player for more than 10 years now and has been composing since he was 15.