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Day 29 | Recorder31

Day 29 | Recorder31

We're looking forward to PIVA playing at Snape Maltings later today on the new outdoor Dome Stage. Snape Maltings is the home of our new store, and like the beautiful village of Saltaire, it is a heritage site and well worth a visit!  

Our Snape Store 

For Recorder31 today, we are inspired by PIVA and are focusing on renaissance woodwind. Although these instruments are not recorders, they are very much related instruments to the recorder in terms of playing them. Crumhorns, cornamusen, shawms and even cornetti are fantastic alternative instruments for recorder players looking for another string to their bow (or more wind appropriate metaphor!). Although there are some challenges for recorder players in learning and mastering these instruments, they are really approachable for recorder players in the same way as the baroque flute and oboe are (see our earlier Recorder31 post about this).  

The fingerings for these early wind instruments are largely the same as on the recorder and will feel very familiar under the fingers. Modern crumhorns, cornamusen and shawm families are usually reproduced in C and F mirroring the recorder family, with other keys mirroring the more specialised recorders in G and D. The renaissance repertoire and how to approach it in terms of style etc. is second-nature for recorder players, and therefore like with the baroque flute and oboe, the main challenge in playing renaissance wind will be the embouchure and sound production.   

Crumhorns, Cornamusen & Rauschpfiefes   

These are both known as windcap renaissance instruments because of the cap covering the reed and forming the mouthpiece of the instrument. These are the easiest renaissance instruments for recorder players as they are the most similar in terms of playing. The two notable differences are the amount of breath they need (much more breath required with ones that have a cane reed) and the slight difference in tonguing. On these instruments the tongue covers/uncovers the hole to stop/start the note. The great thing about these instruments for recorder players is you can play a double reed instrument without needing to master the embouchure and be successful in making a sound on a double reed directly as the windcap does all the work! 

Browse Crumhorns | Browse Cornamusen | Browse Rauschpfeifes 

Why not read our book Introducing...the Crumhorm: A Practical Start to the Instrument by Clare Salaman 


The main difference between the windcap instruments above and shawms is that shawms don't have the advantage of the windcap. Some shawms have pirourettes, a little cylindrical cone around the reed that helps you form the embouchure, but shawms will require you to master a double reed. The bonus of a shawm however is they have a larger range than the above instruments and can be much louder (though we'll leave it up to you whether you agree that's a bonus!).   

Browse Shawms 


Cornetti have a very distinctive sound but are arguably the most challenging instruments to play on this list. The fingerings will be familiar to recorder players so once again it is a case of mastering the embouchure. But take heart, as this can be as tricky for recorder players to master as it is for modern trumpet players as the mouthpiece is so small!  

Browse Cornetti 


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