Saturday, November 13, 2010

My New Recorders!

Playing recorders has long been one of my most passionate hobbies along with writing.

I always hesitate saying that because whenever I tell people about my enthusiasm for recorders they respond like, ‘Oh, recorders - that’s interesting,’ with a hint of ambivalence. I know what they think. People think that recorders are for kiddies.

They’re mistaken! Recorders are neither MADE nor MEANT for children but HAPPENED to be used for music education for kids. (For which I’m actually thankful because I’d never have developed this passion for the instruments otherwise.)

I had been using my plastic recorders over 25 years, the ones I was provided at my elementary school. Over the years my skills have improved, but I had never bothered buying GOOD recorders till this year.

For an amateur, I’m a fairly fanatic player and I personally think I’m quite good. :D
I noticed that I can control the sound by the way I move my lips, how deep I suck the mouthpiece in or the amount of air I blow in.
I've even experimented with ‘broken’ or ‘piercing’ sound to give the edge to many non-classical pieces.

Since my husband played in bands for many years prior to our marriage, his passion is to play guitars. I sometimes accompany my husband’s guitar with my recorder and have found out that the sounds of two instruments blend nicely together.
Recorders are also easy to carry around in my suitcase, so I can perform with him when we visit his family. :)

It was my husband who suggested that I should upgrade my recorders. I wasn’t as convinced as him at first but I wanted to push my performance up to the next level.

Well, the plastic ones are okay as long as I only play the lower to the middle notes, however I've noticed the tunings of my plastic YAMAHA recorders a bit higher than how they should be and the high notes are inconsistent. Those notes always tend to break and sound awful when it happens.

But I had always thought it was lack of my technique that caused the problem.

Early this year I started to check out some recorders on Internet, and came across with the comment in which a guy said he could produce high notes effortlessly with his new recorder – and he always thought that it was his fault he couldn’t hit the notes.

That was when I seriously started considering buying new recorders.
Recorders, which I initially thought would be inexpensive turned out to be fairly expensive. Popular-brand recorders could cost thousands of dollars. Plus there are many different recorder woods to choose from, which affect the sound.

Recorders don’t have big demand in Australian market. High-quality recorders are hard to come by as they’re not manufactured in Australia, and shops don’t keep them in stock.
For that reason, you can’t try them first to find out which one suit your style the best.

I checked out YouTube to listen to some recorder performances, read reviews and advices by recorder fanatics, recommending buying the ridiculously expensive Moeck Rottenburg series in ebony or rosewood – Yeah, sure I would if I were a millionaire (and if I were a professional performer who solely plays classical pieces.)!

The genre of music I play ranges from classic, rock, bosanova, jazz to some Japanese classics, thus I wanted my recorders to have the flexibility and versatility.
Around that time I came across with Mollenhauer (german) recorders.
They were a lot cheaper than above-mentioned brand, but the reviews were good.
The brand’s Denner series had the solid reputation in the quality and its precision tuning, but what appeared to me most was a comment by one music school student describing the sound as ‘flexible and more interesting (or words to that effect)’ than Moeck.

After setting my mind on Mollenhauer I selected the wood carefully.
I wanted the warm, soft and open sort of sound for treble (alto), and clear, vivid sound with good overtones for descant (soprano).

The new recorders arrived on Monday! :):):)
It took three months to import from Germany due to the disruption caused by the volcano ash debacle. But it’s no longer an issue.
They definitely were worth the wait.
The treble in boxwood has the warm, soft sound I wanted and the descant in rosewood has the clear, rich and resonant sound, both with easy high notes response.

They both look and sound beautiful. YEAH!!!

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