Dissertation

Abstract

Since its beginnings in the 14th century, the recorder has been undergoing a constant process of transformation as it continually weaves itself into the musical tapestry of the changing times. The variety of designs it has taken throughout history has given us the possibility of working not only with historical instruments, but also with contemporary recorder models. However, the picture is not what one would expect. Copies of historical instruments are still predominantly used for all musical forms and styles, and I work to answer the questions: to which degree can contemporary recorder models enrich the contemporary repertoire, add to the catalogue of available playing techniques, and expand recorder performance practice to fulfil the new challenges and demands of contemporary music.

In my research, I mainly focus on a specific model, the Helder Tenor, which was developed in the 1990s by Maarten Helder and fulfils many of the requirements expected from a recorder in the 21st century: balanced volume, dynamic possibilities, extended pitch range, and an increased variety of  tone colours. With regards to method, extended instrumental techniques, and performance practice of this and many more contemporary recorder models, we find ourselves at a beginning point with a world of information yet to research, gauge, and document.

Link to the full version of my dissertation.

To make you more curious…

Preface

Either it repels, with an intensity approaching physical loathing; or it exercises a fascination bordering on addiction.[1] Kees Boeke

The recorder has, for me, always been an instrument that offers endless possibilities of sound manipulation and great potential for new discoveries. My first music teacher introduced me to the recorder as a multifaceted and versatile instrument and she always showed great interest in new music. Thus, it was natural for me to not only play early music on the recorder, but also work with the sounds and music of our time. Through my studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the Berlin University of the Arts, where I devoted myself to both contemporary chamber music as well as early music and contemporary solo repertoire, I learned to always bring out the best of my instruments and to find solutions through extended playing techniques, the choice of a specific recorder model or its preparation. It was incredibly exciting and inspiring work. However, I would never have come to question or even demand what I truly wanted to be able to play on my instruments, until the moment, in March 2012, when I met Johannes Fischer, German recorder player and teacher at the Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt. At that time, he had already been exploring a contemporary recorder for almost 20 years and showed me playing techniques way beyond my imagination. This is where my journey begins. 


[1] = Entweder wird sie mit einer Intensität zurückgewiesen, die körperlicher Abscheu nahekommt, oder sie übt eine Faszination aus, die an Abhängigkeit grenzt; in: Gisela Rothe: Recorders Based on Historical Models (Fulda, 2007), p. 18

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