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What Are Baroque Recorders?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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Baroque recorders are woodwind instruments that belong to a group known as duct flutes, and originated during the 17th century as an improvement over the existing style of recorder. During this period in history, recorders were very popular instruments because they were widely available and much of the vocal music of the time could be also played on them. Baroque recorders are played by blowing gently into a mouthpiece and covering holes located along the length of the body to produce the different notes. Modern recorders are commonly constructed of plastic or wood, and they are relatively affordable to purchase. The recorder is often taught to young music students as a first instrument because it is versatile and easy to learn.

Baroque recorders are the most advanced type of duct flute. A duct flute is a woodwind instrument with an airway in the mouthpiece that is shaped by a block or plug that is fixed in place. They were developed as a more versatile improvement over the previous style of recorders in response to the demands of emerging musical styles, and they quickly became the dominant type with widespread availability. The baroque recorders were designed to produce an intense sound, and had a range of a little more than two octaves. They were intended as solo instruments, and were well-suited to playing the vocal parts of the musical pieces written during the era.

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The body of a baroque recorder is usually constructed in three sections, and it has a tubular shape. Below the mouthpiece, there are seven finger holes in the front of the instrument, with one thumb hole in the back, and the end of the recorder flairs out in a bell shape. Sound is produced by blowing gently into the mouthpiece, and different combinations of holes are covered to produce each note in the baroque recorder's range. It's important not to blow too hard, as it can distort the notes or produce an annoying screeching sound.

In modern times, baroque recorders are usually mass-produced and made out of plastic or wood; it's also possible to purchase custom-made, hand-carved instruments for serious musicians. Recorders are extremely inexpensive to purchase compared to other instruments, which makes them an affordable option for the musician on a budget. Because of their affordability and simplicity, baroque recorders are often introduced to students as a first instrument and they are very popular in schools. There is a wide variety of music available for recorder, and many vocal pieces can be played on the instrument as well. Students can gain valuable musical experience by learning to play recorder, and many go on to learn other instruments after this introduction to playing instrumental music.

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