*hoo* *hee* *hoo*
January 19, 2020 6:38 PM   Subscribe

If you watched the recent streaming series The Mandalorian, you may have noticed that the theme song , by Ludwig Göransson, used as a major element a woodwind not normally featured: the recorder.

In the United States, recorders are commonly thought of as a child's toy or first instrument. This was due to the tireless efforts of Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, who created music and promoted the recorder as part of the Orff Schulwerk system of teaching music and musicianship to schoolchildren.
Why Every Kid in America Learns to Play the Recorder
But where it’s most recognizable is as a teaching tool. It has a few key advantages in that capacity. For one thing, ever since the 1960s, it’s been manufactured in insanely cheap plastic, which is near-indestructible and can actually sound quite good. “Some of the very cheapest recorders can produce sounds very close to the very best, but at a hundredth of the price,” says Everingham. It’s an accessible instrument. Unlike, say, a saxophone, or even a guitar, no real technique is needed to actually make sound come out. You simply blow, which gives young students a big step up in the learning of the recorder. And the soprano recorder is a perfect size for a small child’s hand, so there’s no need to make a smaller version for younger players.
Dear recorder teacher, I'm so sorry

But what is a recorder? The Recorder Homepage explains:
Few if any other musical instruments are manufactured, sold and played in such vast numbers as the recorder. Its use in educational programmes is ubiquitous throughout the western world and common in much of the rest of it. However, it must be said that despite their laudable efforts towards the recorder’s promulgation, music educators are too often the chief agents of its abuse, albeit unwittingly.

Rather than a mere toy, an educational aid, or a simple musical instrument suitable only for amateurs, the recorder can be the vehicle of serious musical expression demanding years of dedicated study . It has a long and interesting history and can lay claim to an extensive and highly varied repertoire spanning eight centuries. And it has always enjoyed a particularly rich representation in literature, drama, painting and sculpture.

This introductory article takes a brief and somewhat unconventional look at the history of the recorder, the instrument itself.
From the Medieval Period through the Modern Period, recorder Construction and Design has varied, including modern plastic, while an enormous Repertoire for recorders of all shapes and sizes [including electric and square] is available.
Most recorders range from garklein, sporanino, soprano or 'descant', alto or 'treble', tenor, bass, and even larger to sub-contrabass.

The recorder was a prominent Baroque instrument, as in:
G.Ph. Telemann: Concerto for Traverso and Recorder in E minor ('traverso' in this context refers to a flute)
Vivaldi: Recorder Concerto, Recorder Concerto in C minor, mvt II,
5 Baroque Pieces for Soprano Recorder

bonus: recorder quartets:
The Beatles - Yesterday -
John Willians - The Cantina Band
Bach: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 [arr. for recorder quartet
Hønsefødder og Gulerødder
posted by the man of twists and turns (30 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
*streaming, not steaming! Can you please edit the above-the-fold section?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:43 PM on January 19

posted by cortex (staff) at 6:47 PM on January 19

I did not...

Pretty much all I noticed was Baby Yoda. For good reason. But,

Will listen for it next watch through though.
posted by Windopaene at 6:49 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

And, most wood winds have reeds, or tricky wind things like a flute. Reeds are, quirky.

Recorders are pretty cool then on the accessability scale, music wise.
posted by Windopaene at 6:54 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

so this post should really highlight Nicholas S. Lander's Recorder Homepage, an enormous and in-depth review of this often overlooked instrument, as well as Sarah Jeffrey / Team Recorder's youtube channel that showcases various kinds of recorders, reviews of various recorders, playing tips and techniques, and instruction in many songs.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:24 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

nothing quite like the sound of (forced) recorder practice tho is there?
posted by some loser at 7:38 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

“One of the great joys of playing American sports arenas with Radiohead is their amazing communal showers. I’ll get to the venue early, seek out these rooms that smell of Deep Heat and jockstraps, get out my recorder, play one of Telemann’s canonic sonatas and just be swamped in this flattering reverb." - Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood: 'Instead of cocaine, hook me up with a recorder group!'
posted by josephtate at 7:38 PM on January 19 [11 favorites]

I hate forced recorder. I fully support music education, but I will never support single instrument instruction. After 5 years of private piano lessons, my daughter just switched to a middle school where recorder is her *only* option for music. She still plays piano at an accomplished level for her age. But we’re now forced to listen to he wheezing.

Have you ever heard a room full of kids forced into one instrument?

Just...fuck forced recorder. Drums would be better.
posted by EinAtlanta at 7:49 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Have you ever heard a room full of kids forced into one instrument?

I'm so sorry. [previously]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:58 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

Elementary school recorder concerts are the Vogon poetry of music.
posted by NumberSix at 8:07 PM on January 19 [15 favorites]

Baby Yoda

Something just clicked and now alls I hear is

Baba yoda yoda uliye
Mbinguni yoda yoda amina
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:14 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Needs more güiro.
posted by panama joe at 9:51 PM on January 19

This instrument has always really annoyed me, not because of how it sounds, but because of what it's called.

It doesn't record. It just plays!
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:54 PM on January 19 [7 favorites]

I never learned to play recorder, I went into the strings track.

My favorite recorder piece is a mashup!
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:52 AM on January 20

I thought it was an ocarina. The recorder is a venerable instrument, and being a mere ocarina impersonator is a bit of a step down for it.
posted by Grangousier at 1:36 AM on January 20

The best instrument for an elementary school to have is a Wurlitzer. I used to groove on the Taxi theme with my curly-cord headphones.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:47 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]

This instrument has always really annoyed me, not because of how it sounds, but because of what it's called.

It doesn't record. It just plays!
posted by Cardinal Fang at 2:54 AM on January 20

Funnily enough, it's been called a "recorder" for a very long time - that used to be a very sensible term for the instrument, but when you've shared a word for 600 years you can't always count on the other definitions remaining stalwart. The Wikipedia subsection on this topic is a great little read.
posted by ZaphodB at 3:56 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]

I liked the functioning of that flute motif in the series - it’s like musical code for the “this is the way” theme. Soon we won’t even need to hear the words, the little flute will be tied to that set of meanings specifically
posted by mit5urugi at 4:06 AM on January 20

Tenacious D won a Grammy in 2014 for covering Dio's 'The Last in Line' and they replaced the guitar solo with a recorder solo. \m/
posted by djeo at 5:04 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]

I thought it was an ocarina. The recorder is a venerable instrument, and being a mere ocarina impersonator is a bit of a step down for it.

I kinda prefer the ocarina, or it's lowbrow pre-band variant, the tonette/song-flute, used as an even cheaper alternative to the recorder. Despite the smaller range, I find them more expressive, and generally not as shrill sounding as the recorder.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:20 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]

aaahahaha the post title. I didn't see you mention the meme it's from, so I don't really have an excuse to say that the recorder player in it is a pro currently studying final year music at Cambridge who also happened to play the theme for the new BBC Clangers series.
posted by lokta at 7:03 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]

I could not hear anything over the sound of my own squealing at Baby Yoda
posted by supermedusa at 8:30 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]

I blame the recorder for my musical illiteracy. It's the biggest artistic field I feel no connection to creation-wise. I'm not tone deaf, but I don't know how many boys want fudge or how fa so la te does it. I always "lost" or "Accidentally broke" my recorder. I hate hot cross buns! I hated that cheapy flute, and it put me off music classes in school. A damn shame and I've heard from others similarly put off music by the Recorder Regime. I get it, it's a cheap and easy POS to play and learn but it sounds like it. I think there'd be a lot more musically inclined adults around today if a modern keyboard had been all our first instruments. That's the Ultimate Instrument anyway, a possible gateway to them all, if not, a sim of them.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:01 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]

… unless you were old/unlucky enough to learn on a Swanson Tonette. For some reason, I managed to miss out on any school instrument, likely because my mum decreed that I was not musical and any encouragement in that direction would have been a waste of money

A friend of mine's father is an unbelievably good classical recorder player. He played with absolute grace at his son's wedding, despite me egging the couple on to get wedding kazoos for everyone.
posted by scruss at 9:48 AM on January 20

I am not old enough to have gotten any musical education in school. But I did get a free Swanson Tonette from the dumpster when they threw them away after cutting all variants of music from the budget at my school.
posted by elizilla at 11:10 AM on January 20

Nothing Recorders without Frans Brüggen and (a few of) his students.
posted by Namlit at 11:35 AM on January 20

I played recorder at school and still like to impress (that might be the wrong word) my kids by taking requests for whatever song they want.

One of the nuns at my school played contra bass (I think, the big one) recorder during our recorder lessons. It's a very cool looking instrument.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:16 PM on January 20

Have you ever heard a room full of kids forced into one instrument?

I once had a job where I spent every Monday traveling from 3rd grade classroom to 3rd grade classroom at an enormous elementary school teaching recorder in 30 minute classes with a 5 minute break between classes, 11 of those classes in a row. It was...something else. It’s a beautiful instrument when not in the hands of 8 year-olds, and when the soprano is tempered with other stuff, and Baroque recorder music is cool. My students learned basic music literacy from it and they really enjoyed it since that was first music class they got there.

In my current district, which has music for every kid twice a week, lots of teachers are doing recorders in 3rd grade as a preparation for ukuleles in 4th grade, which is very fun and motivating and boy, there’s pretty much nothing more cute than an elementary school ukulele club jamming out.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:09 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]

charmedimsure, my cousin is a primary school teacher and he started a ukulele club with the 6(?) year olds. He has never played the ukulele before but seems to be successful with his plan of being one class ahead of them!

I learnt the recorder at school, for me it was a gateway drug to other instruments.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:14 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

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