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Preview | Recorder31

Preview | Recorder31

Welcome to Recorder31 – a whole month of everything recorder! We're really excited about this year's event and there's lots on offer including interviews, performances, competitions, articles, prizes, daily deals and much more which is why we've decided to launch it 2 days early!  

We're kicking off Recorder31 with bass recorder week, and by bass recorder we mean all of them, from the bass reorder (basset) to the sub-sub-great bass recorder!  

Don't miss out on our "Play Bass and Beyond" offer this weekend. We are offering up to 20% off selected bass recorders from bassets to contras! All of the instruments are in stock and waiting to be played! Discounts are available until midnight (Pacific Time) on Sunday 1st August or while stock lasts.  

Bass recorder week  

For bass week we have lots of exciting content for you including the first of our playing competitions, bass-related articles, interviews with Anna Stegmann and Moira Usher as well as performances from Anna. 

To start off bass week we thought it'd be good to have a quick look at the different bass recorders, their history and what they look like today.  

Michael Praetorius details a great bass recorder in F in his Syntagma Musicum from 1619. This was an octave below the basset in F. He shows a recorder in Bb in between these which was known as a quint-bass. The instruments from the basset down had a single key for the bottom note, with the keywork hidden under a fontanelle. The larger recorders also had a crook for blowing.   


Since the recorder revival in the early C20th, recorder consorts are usually made in octaves with recorders in C or F tunings. And so nowadays Praetorius' great bass in F is usually called a contrabass in F. The recorder between the contrabass and the bass (basset) is now called the great bass in C, which was known back then as a quart-bass. With the advances in production technology and the growth in larger ensemble playing, bigger bass recorders have become increasingly popular and are much more readily available than they were in the 17th century!  

There are two different types of bass recorders – traditional basses and square basses. Traditional basses tend to be styled after renaissance or baroque bass recorders with round, conical bores. They are often designed as part of a consort series, such as the Moeck Rondo, Mollenhauer Denner and Kung Superio series. The square basses are inspired by and designed after organ pipes, and have a slightly different sound to their more traditional counterparts. Due to their design they are smaller and more compact. The main maker of square basses is Paetzold by Kunath, but there is also the Millenium series made by Coolsma as well. You can hear more about square basses and their organ beginning as well as new developments that look to the organ for inspiration once more in our in conversation video with maker Jo Kunath from last year.  

Recorders are what we call 4-foot instruments, something that comes from the organ again! Stops (or sets of pipes) on the organ are called 8", 4", 16" etc. An 8" stop plays at concert pitch, and is so called because its longest pipe (playing the low C) is around 8 foot in length. A 4" stop plays the octave above the 8" stop, and a 16" stop plays an octave below. So when you play a middle C on an organ, it will sound as middle C with an 8" stop out, but an octave higher if you have a 4" stop out. This is the same with recorders and is why recorders sound an octave higher than written.  

Therefore the lowest pitches of the bass recorders at concert pitch are:  

However, due to the purity of the recorder sound, the harmonics and the overtones they produce, it is very easy to forget this as they often sound lower than they actually are, especially when played in consorts! 

Don't miss our posts later this week where we explore the different options when buying bass recorders and take a look at the repertoire available! 

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