Descant

The descant recorder is the third smallest instrument of the recorder family. It is usually known as the soprano recorder. Its timbre is similar to the sound of the flue pipes of an organ, which is the reason some organ stops sound similar to a recorder. The finger spacing of this instrument is relatively small, which is why it is often used in music education for children who are first learning to play a musical instrument. The descant recorder is an octave above the level of the human soprano voice. Its lowest note is c2and the normal range is c2–d4. Over this range it is fully chromatic, but when a key is further away from C, intonation becomes an issue.

They are made from various woods such as pear, boxwood, maple, olive, rosewood, ebony or African blackwood. It is easy to play and has a pure soft tone. It provides an ideal amount of air resistance so it can be controlled more easily. The soprano recorder usually has ten holes, one is called the thumb hole and it is located on the reverse side, the other nine are fingerholes. The musician blows into the tip of the beak and then the airstream is directed against a sharp edge located in the side of the instrument. The playing technique requires coordination of tongued articulations and fingers.

Most of the descant recorders use the traditional fingering method (Baroque or English method). This technique was created in 1919 by Arnold Dolmetsch and it requires a cross fingering. There are also some descant recorders that use the ‘German’ fingering technique, which was introduced around 1926 by Peter Harlan. In this technique the ‘f’ is playable with a simple fingering.

At Varsity Music, here in Edinburgh, Scotland, we provide a great range of new and used descant recorders available to buy online. They are the best on the market and serviced by our trained musicians.

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