recorder method online : descant/sopranod natural
Dr. Brian Blood

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Important: To see and hear our 'live' music examples you will need to install the free Scorch plug-in for PC and MAC systems.

First Octave :: Second Octave: C :: C#/Db :: D :: Eb/D# :: E :: F :: F#/Gb :: G :: G#/Ab :: A :: Bb/A# :: B :: Third Octave

This section gives advice on the following topics:

How To Finger The Note D
How To Tongue The Note D
How Loud Should I Be?

How To Finger The Note D in the Second Octave

The fifteenth note we learn, D in the second octave on the descant (soprano) recorder, lies on the second line from the top of the treble clef. Click on the play button in the Sibelius score to hear it. Below that we give the standard fingering for this note, the fingering you would use under normal circumstances.

Legend: = hole covered = hole uncovered = pinched thumbhole

Recorder Thumb 1 2 3 4 5 6b
  -----left hand------ -----right hand-----


Using the standard nomenclature, the fingering for second octave D is written 2.

How To Tongue The Note D in the Second Octave

D in the second octave is also easy enough in itself to play in tune and, with a little care, to play without either forcing the tone or playing too weakly. Taken together with C sharp which we introduced in the previous lesson, we can see how in the middle of the instrument range notes are characterised by having relatively few fingers in contact with the instrument. For the beginner and more experienced alike, control of the recorder is a problem when there are so few points of contact between the player and the instrument and you need to make sure that the beak is gripped firmly enough by the lips and that the instrument is held high enough to reduce the risk of it slipping out of your hands. You should hold the instrument at an angle of 45 degrees - this we recommended in the very first lesson First Things First. When you play larger sizes of recorder, a thumbrest will prevent the recorder slipping out of your hands.

If you play a D on your descant recorder and vary the blowing pressure you will find that you can easily raise or lower the pitch of the note by increasing or reducing your blowing pressure. As you blow harder the volume becomes greater and the pitch becomes sharper. If you blow less hard, the volume decreases and the pitch falls. Those notes on the recorder that have the fewest fingers down are those where the player has to use all of his or her judgement to decide how hard to blow in order to produce an 'in tune' note. This aspect of wind instruments, the relationship between blowing pressure and pitch, is unavoidable no matter how carefully the instrument is made. It is part of the physics of all wind-instruments. If you are sensitive to small changes in pitch, and have a fixed pitch reference like a piano to which to refer, you should be able to learn how to play in tune to that reference point. Later, as you become more experienced, you will not only be able to produce a well in tune D without reference to a fixed pitch instrument but you will also be able to slightly sharpen or flatten the D when you find yourself playing with a keyboard instrument that is itself slightly sharp or flat to a=440Hz. This 'flexibility' will be vitally important when we come to consider playing with others, whether keyboard players using fixed pitch instruments, or wind and string players who are faced with as many 'pitch' choices as you.

How Loud Should I Be?

A common mistake many players make when they take up the recorder is to have a predetermined sense of 'how loud' the instrument should be and of what constitutes its 'characteristic' tone. For many adult amateurs, the inspiration to take up the recorder comes from hearing others perform on the instrument, whether live in the concert hall or on recordings. The 'loudness' and the 'tone colour' of a recorder heard in live performance will be greatly influenced by the acoustic properties of the room in which the performance takes place as well as by the skill of the accompanying musicians who should not overpower the recorder's sound. What one notices is 'relative' rather than 'absolute' loudness, and the effectiveness of the player's 'tone' colour is in the way that his musical line may be distinguishable from the accompanying lines. In recordings, the skill of the recording engineer guided often by a highly experienced producer, is used to adjust the balance and 'closeness' of the recording of the different lines in the performance. What we, the listener, hear coming from the recording may be entirely unobtainable from a live performance. Even comparing the sound the listener hears with the sound the player hears, to an external listener the sound is stronger and rounder. The player receives additional tonal information via bone conduction while the external listener can rely only on air conduction. If you have heard a recording of yourself speaking, you will understand the point I am making. The player's awareness of the tone and volume should be of only secondary concern - it is the pitch of the notes relative to those of the notes produced by other instruments that should be the player's main concern. In other words, just intonation. Intonation is of primary importance; volume is only of secondary concern. Later, we will discuss ways other than blowing harder or more gently to change the perceived volume of a note. Fortunately there are a number of tricks that make use of the remarkable properties of the human ear and human brain and which do not compromise good intonation. Hearing like vision is a more complicated than you might imagine.

It is now time to try the next piece no. 15 where we introduce D and C sharp from this and from the previous lesson.