20 March 2023

The big end of sound

This was an unusual assignment.  I got an email from Margaret Wright asking if I could record another of her recorder groups.  OK, interesting.  It turned out to be an East Coast convention of an Eight Foot Pitch Recorder Orchestra, meaning the pitch of eight foot organ pipes, meaning low.  She had a collection of 70 or so players for this weekend.  I got to hear ~45mins and record ~30mins.  Recorders are a simple and attractive tone, forming sounds essentially like whistles or organ flue pipes, but they can get very complex and precise when they grow, so square formats and bocals (curving metal pipes) and keys and levers and pads and associated adjustments.  Perhaps my favourite music was something I heard and didn't record: a mediaeval tune by a lesser known composer.  A long Schubert surprised me and a string of more romantic tunes was less attractive to my ears.  I guess I associate the recorder with an era, even if there are living recorder composers.  The formality, adoration and sometimes joy of mediaeval musical order suits the instruments to my ears.  And unusual sounds these were.  No sopraninos or trables here.  I think the highest was tenor, and they went down to the big basses and great basses and contrabasses, variously turned C and F.  So I learnt of recorders and heard a very unusual and large combination in orchestral format.  Ever learning.  Great and thanks.

Margaret Wright (conductor) directed the Eight Foot Pitch Recorder Orchestra in Canberra.

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