Episode 56: Improving your SOUND on various recorders

Episode 56: Improving your SOUND on various recorders

This is Hester and this is Maria.
Together we are the CONSORT COUNSELLORS! During our recent live session,
Hester recommended someone to practice the same piece of music
on recorders of different sizes. This is what we want to do with you today Yes! We chose to work with four different types
and four different sizes of instruments to give you tips on how to improve your sound. What might work for one instrument may not be so good
when you play another instrument… We hope the tips are useful for you. Let’s get started! OK, let’s start with the sopranino! The melody we chose for today is
“Doen Daphne d’overschoone maeght” María, take it away! We often think that sopraninos are loud and screaming and that the best policy to play on them is soft
and a bit careful, so that we are not overexposed. This way of thinking is actually quite wrong! Let’s start by getting
a healthy sound out of the instrument. You want to fill the room
with the beautiful sound of the sopranino. Don’t be shy, don’t be careful! Thank you María, bravo for filling the room
with that amount of sound! Really nice! But… The question with sopranino playing is actually:
How can we make the sound warm? Maybe you can try to loosen up your lips and cheeks
a bit so that the air travels a bit slower into the recorder, because the wind channel is already very small
so we have room to use a slightly slower air stream so that the sound becomes a bit warmer. Yes, very nice! Last step of this exercise is: Maybe you can pick a couple of notes
to put a little color on, a little bit of vibrato. What I see when you are playing is that there is
a lot of movement going on inside your mouth. Your tongue is going up and down…
What I can see I can also hear! I hear the sound falling towards the end of every note
and going up in the middle. Feel how your tongue is touching on the back teeth,
you can feel that if you say “Yeah!” Make sure that your jaw is not dropping. Play it again and try to keep that position. Feel that just the tip of the tongue is moving. Well, that helps a lot, that sounded much better! When the air pressure gets a little slower,
the pitch drops quite a lot, that’s what I heard the first time you played. What we can try, for the exercise, just so that you learn
the complete opposite feeling: Imagine that every tone is growing into the next one.
[Sings] What I like about this version is that the beginning
of every tone is very clear and that the airstream is never interrupted. Now, if you let go of the “need” to do it for every note
and you just focus on doing that over the entire phrase, you have a bit more space… Try one last time and see what difference it makes
if you focus on all the space we have around us. Fifty metres into the back there’s someone
and you want to send this person your sound! I find this a very nice performance!
You see, it’s very interesting what Hester did when she imagined someone
was listening to her from far away. Her sound didn’t become much louder but the air stream became thinner and faster, so it travels further away. She also exaggerated a bit more her musical ideas, so that people in the back can understand her,
as if I will talk slower when you are far away! Well, you notice that this instrument costs a lot of air. Because of the way that it is built
it also sounds really “airy” and the keys make a lot of noise. This is in the way
of the melody in this style of music. We may have to think the opposite than we are used to. When you would close your throat or put your jaw higher,
you don’t get the best result. To get a sound with more core,
you have to lower your jaw a little bit more. Much better! Now, to reduce the key noise,
try to move your fingers as elegantly as possible, as if you hold a smaller instrument. Think about your projection,
as we also did with the Renaissance tenor. How would this come across in the last row?
They still need to understand your musical ideas. “Doen Daphne”, the melody, is maybe not the first thing
you would play on a Paetzold recorder. It is actually very suitable for experimental
and contemporary music, The key noise might also be
a really nice effect to play with. Can you play the melody of “Doen Daphne”
in a very contemporary way, with lots of effects, key noises and maybe even wind noises to it? As you maybe can see, this is
one of the original Paetzold recorders. These recorders are now built by Paetzold by Kunath. They are developing the instrument
with more silent keys and a direct-blown head joint. That means that the sound
is much more direct and clean. Exciting developments! I see that there is “life” in your sound, by which I mean
that there’s actually a lot of movement! We can try to control that so that you can
play with “life in the tone” only when you want! What we are gonna do is an exercise that I once saw
in a very good YouTube video of the Consort Counsellors! Play a long G and slowly release the pressure,
so much that at some point it turns into a flageolet tone. Keep it as long as possible.
As you are reducing the volume of the tone, feel the pressure you are making here
so that the tone is bending very slowly. Very good! To keep that one you need
very good support from your muscles. If you try this with different notes: F, E, D…
Every time it will get harder to find the [flageolet] tone and this will be helpful for having a more stable sound. Next step, we try the opposite:
you start as soft as possible and you grow until you think: ok, this is the sound
that I like. Then you stay there! Over the whole process, you feel
these “elastics” in your muscles and in the tone. That is very nice! It was a very nice and stable tone! Now that you have this beautiful stable sound
we can try the melody of “Daphne”. Imagine that every note goes in a different direction,
like little horizontal lines. What happens when you’re playing in this way is that we pay a lot of attention
to an active beginning of every note. That’s how, right from the start, we have a stable tone. If you still find this a little bit difficult
there is another trick you can try. Divide every long note you play into equal smaller values. This is very helpful to keep the air stream going! Now, if you play it again with the normal values,
feel still these connections as if you were playing them. Hester and I have been working very hard to get rid
of an unwanted vibrato in the tone. Then again, of course, sometimes you pick a piece
of, for example, contemporary music and it may be required that you produce exactly that sound! We have one very important last tip for you. When you want to improve your sound, record yourself
and evaluate if this is the best result or if you want to improve even more. It’s also a very good idea to try all the tips
we present today with different sizes of instrument and in the most extreme ways possible,
so that you experience what it does to your instrument. We hope you improve your sound and that everyone
around you will enjoy that sound as much as you do! Quite often in our 30-seconds tip we recommend
that you visit nice and cool recorder festivals. In the end of May one of the classic recorder festivals
is coming up in Stockstadt in Germany. We are going to be there so
if you are there too we could say hello! We have a very special concert to celebrate the
10th anniversary of our recorder quintet Seldom Sene. Amongst other masterclasses,
our dear colleagues from Seldom Sene are presenting an ensemble masterclass which is still
open for applications and for the public to listen to. We, as Consort Counsellors, are also presenting
a live “Consort Counselling” session for all the visitors of the masterclass! Bring your alto
in 440 and join our session, we hope to see you there! If you like our stuff, don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss
any future video of the Consort Counsellors!

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Thank you so much ladies for another very interesting episode. Since I am an adult beginner I have a long way to go but you are so inspiring and amazing so it will be a fun journey. /Christer

  2. Hey! That was me!!! ? I’ve added to my practice sessions playing the same song on at least 3 different sizes and I’m already feeling more comfortable switching back and forth quickly. Great advice and wonderful to see it played out by the pros! ❤️

  3. I am starting to study the tenor flute but I would like to know the extension of the real notes which I can make with it. I have a method for the soprano. The high not are ugly. I follow you with big pleasure and interesting. Thanks and regards from Florence.

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