A tenor recorder gets a lot easier

— when you finger the third hole down with your pinky. 🙂

Well, not “easier” per se. Maybe “less painful.” I wish the thing came with a rest of some kind so that the weight of it could go on my knee. It’s a bit to hold up and play at the same time.

And I’m still kind of grossed out at the idea of swabbing spit out of the thing. X-P It will sound fine, until it doesn’t, and it starts to sputter like an old beater pickup truck with water in the fuel line. Which I suppose is a fine metaphor.

It’s getting easier, especially with that pinky trick. But it’s still going to take some doing. I’ll see about “Con rauco mormorio,” since hey, it’s in D right?

Yipes #2.

You know what else is rough about this thing?

There’s nothing to push against. With the viola, you can feel the strings and the bow, and the reaction of the instrument feeding back into your arm. There’s friction. With the piano of course you’re pushing levers around, and they have weight and resistance.

With this thing, there’s no resistance. It’s like balancing in the air — if it were a hydraulic system, I’d say that there was no back pressure. That’s severely challenging.

On the good side, vibrato is a snap and a half.


1) My right wrist hurts. I’m avoiding middle C. 🙂

2) I think D will be a nice key in this thing.

3) It’s hard to play something where you can’t see where you have to put your fingers. That’s a difficulty I hadn’t anticipated; piano and viola both put your hands under your eyes.

4) That said, it sounds pretty, and quiet. Quiet is nice.

The recorder’s here.

This one — Comes with a nicer case than the one shown, naval canvas with a nice sturdy zipper, and the interior is subdivided into little sections for each part.

Just in time to make up for the temporary absence of my viola. He needs a name, too. I have to play him and see how the sound strikes me before naming him — as far as I’m concerned, all violas should be named Stevie, so I have to find a good name for tenor recorders, too.

The C/C# key looked quite cool. It’s not too different from the little soprano torture device I played as a freshman in high school; you cover the hole for a C and just cover it less for a C#. The way it works is quite neat, though. This is my first real foray into Stuff Whut Gits Blowed Inta, and so I’ve never even seen a keyed wind instrument up close before. I’m looking forward to going home tonight and messing with it. I’ve seen a way to make a totally silent mute for one using a bit of bent card, so I’m hoping that I can finagle a way to make a mute that will just shut it up a bit.

I’m not entirely fond of the range; I’d rather it went down at least to the G below middle C, but wind instruments are even more constrained by their physics than stringed ones; you can hit a low note even on a small instrument, it might just sound different, like on octave violins. With SWGBI, you can’t even hit a low note unless you want to play something a mile long, which I do not. At least it’s exactly one octave up from the viola, so I can practice with most of that repertoire. I imagine one “slurs” notes that are meant to be played on one breath, but I’m not sure. Hm, I wonder if the cello suites are doable on these things? They don’t have an amazing range, so possibly not.

I wish there were a good forum for these things where I could ask about good method books for tenor recorders, but the only recorder forum in existence appears to be deader than roadkill. Update: I have found a more active one, but it’s for all woodwind instruments, and do I ever feel like a fish out of water just browsing the posts!

It also comes with a slotted stick to act as a swab for the interior, and I’m trying not to think about that too much since the idea of having to clean spit out of a musical instrument OMFG is also quite new to me and more than a little revolting. One person online remarked that they had bought a pretty translucent plastic recorder only to discover that playing it after having eaten red wine and brie was pretty disgusting. o_O Cute as the colored translucent plastic ones are, I think I’ll pass. And to be fair, the only other device I own that comes with a slotted stick for cleaning it is a lot more deadly than a recorder, no matter how poorly played. 🙂

I am curious though, as to whether or not anyone has ever used dyed dymondwood. Some of that stuff can be absolutely beautiful, and it’s also waterproof in a way that most hardwoods are not. If I decide to take this quite seriously (not a guarantee since once again, I’m not too up on SWGBI), it might be worthwhile to talk with an instrument maker and find out about whether they would be up for making one out of colored dymondwood.

There goes that GAS again … 😦

Well, I did it.

The Check (as they say) Is In The Mail, and I will have a left-handed viola-scale pochette by around Halloween or thereabouts from this fellow, the quite nice Don Rickert. I also got myself a carbon fiber Coda bow — the Diamond NX, which I’m really looking forward to.

I’ll have to be careful; I can feel the ominous rumblings of Gear Acquisition Syndrome stirring deep within the lightless abyss of my soul, and as a confirmed cheapskate and lifelong skinflint, I’d really rather not accumulate a bunch of dust-collecting garbage I don’t need. (Especially when I still have to get the fingerboard replaned on my main instrument.) But still, that pseudo-Baroque-looking gamba-shaped thing I linked to in the post before this one looks sweet as a summer grape, and can be made in 16″ viola scale … Crap.

GAS aside, it will be heaven to be able to travel with a viola. The case is evidently 34″ long but only 4″ x 4″ in cross-section, so although it’s technically longer than permitted, I am confident of being able to get it past a gate agent at an airport, and since it’s longer than needed to hold the instrument, I may even be able to fit the disassembled recorder in it. The round case would have been shorter, but looks depressingly like a pipe bomb, so even though the repurposed fly rod case is longer than I’d like, it looks a lot less threatening.

Nevertheless, I do however anticipate being taken aside and having to explain the thing to TSA when going through security, which will be a pain.

“It’s a travel violin.” (I won’t say “travel viola,” because they probably won’t know WTH a viola is.)

“A what?”

“A travel violin.”

“Wait here, please.”

If I didn’t hate high-pitched noises so much, this wouldn’t be an issue, and I’d just play a piccolo or something and stick the thing in my pocket. Instead, I am fated to get sent through the porno scanner for the rest of my life anytime I fly with this thing. I suppose the fact that a left-handed viola will have effectively been considered a terrorist threat is the ultimate viola joke, but I’m none too fond all the same.