The Kid Should See This

The Recorder: What can this centuries-old instrument really sound like?

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Do you have a plastic recorder at home or does your school have them in music class? The recorder may be viewed as a beginner’s instrument, or even a toy, but those perceptions can be contradicted when Alicia Crossley plays.

An advocate of the instrument’s contemporary music, as well as its long and storied history, Crossley is one of Australia’s recorder virtuosos. “Definitely don’t underestimate the recorder as an instrument,” she warns, “Everyone views it as an easy instrument to play, but it’s a difficult instrument to master.”

“It’s a very unforgiving instrument… one that requires a lot of breath control…”

In this ABC Arts video, In Defense of the Recorder, she shares her impressive recorder collection, including the bass recorder and the modern contra bass recorder.

modern bass contra recorder
Crossley also demonstrates a variety of the instrument’s musical styles. From Australia’s ABC Listen:

“Beloved by King Henry VIII of England, who owned almost 80 individual instruments, the recorder experienced a golden age in the Baroque era with dazzling solos by the likes of Vivaldi, Telemann and J.S. Bach. By 1750, it couldn’t match the dynamic ranges of the flute and newly popular clarinet, going into a musical hibernation until it was rediscovered around 1950. This gave rise to a whole new repertoire for the instrument, with twentieth century composers pushing the recorder’s sonic boundaries with spectacular avant-garde techniques.”

bass recorder
Watch this next: Maurice Steger performs recorder concertos by Vivaldi.

Also: The Lick, a seven-note musical phrase played on 91 instruments.

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