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Topic Summary
Posted by: AmateurPlayer Posted on: Apr 15th, 2003, 7:13pm
I know some players and groups are VERY concerned about whether to mix different types of recorders.  How about some discussion of how Baroque and Renaissance recorders are different, or if there are even older types more suitable for Medieval music?  What about the new wide-bore models?  Student models?  When can they play together acoustically?
Posted by: berto Posted on: Apr 16th, 2003, 5:19pm
I would have an informed opinion about Renaissance vs. Baroque recorders if I actually played both.
There are good-quality, plastic Baroque-style recorders in abundance.
Can anyone recommend a make of good-quality, plastic Renaissance-style recorders?
Because the market for them is smaller and fewer are produced, wood Renaissance-style recorders are generally more expensive than wood Baroque-style recorders, correct?
I'd buy one or more Renaissance-style recorders, plastic or wood, if the price were right.
I'd like to give the Renaissance-style recorders a try. I think if Yamaha, Zen-On, or Aulos were to offer a line of quality Renaissance-style plastic recorders, they'd have many, many buyers.
Posted by: Eric Stern Posted on: Apr 30th, 2003, 8:07pm
At the Grushkin workshop, the person sitting next to me had plastic  soprano and alto Renaissance style instruments.  I think he said they came from Kelischek.
Posted by: Hautbois Posted on: Jun 10th, 2003, 8:01pm
If you don't mind, I was wondering - what's the difference?
I only have a couple recorders, and that's all I've used for years.  I don't know what the difference is between a renaissance and a baroque recorder.  Could someone explain?
Posted by: MasquedPhoenix1 Posted on: Jun 13th, 2003, 3:56pm
The easiest way to tell a Renaissance from a Baroque recorder is usually by looking at the bottom two holes (nearest the bell).  Baroque recorders usually have double holes (two tiny holes meant to be covered by the same finger).  Renaissance recorders have single holes all the way down.  But if you have single holes, you may also have a German-system recorder.  
Ren. recorders have a very wide bore when comaped to their Baroque brethren.  Ren. recorder bores are basically cylindrical- about the same width at fipple as at bell.  Baroque recorders narrow considerably as they go down toward the bell.  What this does acoustically is refine the sound, improve the intonation and expand the range.  A Ren. recorder will only play about one octave and a sixth.  A Baroque will play anywhere from two octaves and a second to two and a half octaves (for the really well made ones).    If your all-single-holed recorder plays over two octaves, chances are it as a German-system Baroque recorder.
There are also "transitional" recorders out there.  They are usually copies of instruments from the mid-1600s.  I have one of these.  It has a wider bore than the Baroque instruments but it also has a full 2-1/2 octave range.
Pros and cons:
Renaissance instruments have a much louder and fuller sound that their Baroque counterparts.  This is especially noticeable in the low register.  These instruments do not die out as you play lower.  But there is the issue of the limited range.  These horns are great for playing Susato and some of the easier Renaissance fare, but you're out of luck if you're trying to play Telemann.  Intonation can also be questionable unless you have a really finely made instrument.  And because of the single holes on the lowest notes, the chromatics are a bit problematic.
The transitional instruments have a strong, rich sound and great range.  Double holes are usually present so those chromatic notes aren't a problem.  The only downside I've found is that their stronger sound will overbalance a Baroque instrument in ensemble.
Baroque instruments have the large range and good overall intonation, but they wuss out a bit when you are stuck playing something low in the range.  Your Baroque soprano will get lost  in the texture playing some really early pieces that hang in the low register.
German system horns have a wide bore (equalling strong sound) and large range, but they don't have the double holes making the lower chromatics iffy.  They also use the simpler fingering system of the Renaissance instruments- less complicated because of less need for forked fingerings (think the lower octave F on C-recorders), but less versatile for alternate fingerings as well.  Intonation can also be questionable, especially on those notes using the simpler fingerings.
From a visual perspective, Renaissance instruments tend to have less ornamentation than the Baroque ones do.  Renaissance bodies are often without joints as well with the added disadvantage that brings of being stuck with the intonation that came out of the maker's shop.  
You will find "modern recorders" out there as well, but most I have come across are based on the Renaissance model with a few modifications.  Mollenhauer's Dream Soprano is a nice effort- large 'n' loud Ren. bore with Baroque fingerings.  But they are somewhat tasteless in the color and design department.  Ditto the wonderful sounding but gosh-awful looking Paetzold instruments.  The strongest basses you will ever find, but with a look that only a mother could love.  Check out Moeck's web site for some interesting new ideas coming down the pipe.
As for plastic Renaissance recorders, I heard that Yamaha was developing some, but I have not heard of them being on the market yet.  And be very careful buying wooden Renaissance instruments- there is a lot of real junk out there.  Ren. horns will always be a lot more expensive- the whole supply and demand thing.  Do not think that a $400 Ren. soprano will be of comparable quality to a $400 Baroque instrument.  Always test instruments thoroughly before you buy them whenever possible.  
Two other words of advice for purchasing- well-made recorders are really worth the cash and consider who you'll be playing with when you are thinking of which recorders to buy.  I played for many years on "step-up" instruments before I decided I was really tired of fighting instruments with insurmountable intonation and response problems.  Tighten the belt, feed the piggy bank- sometimes it really is the instrument's fault!  And when you do get a wonderful handmade instument, be aware that you may no longer blend as well with your group as you would like.  Fine instruments often have a buzzy edge to the sound- it make the sound more penetrating and interesting.  But these also means you will stick out like a sore thumb if you're not really carefull.  Ditto for buying an ebony instrument when all your quartet-mates are playing on maple.  Harder wood produces clearer and more penetrating sounds.  Better recorders are usually made with very narrow windways as well- these are often curved.  These allow you some dynamic flexibility, but they magnify all your bad habits.  They are not as forgiving if you overblow- your intonation will seem horrible.  That's why cheaper instruments meant for beginners have wide windways- you will still sound decent while you are in your "learning stages".
Well, enough rambling for the moment.  Hopefully this'll answer a few people's questions!

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