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.

Link to the whole appendix, including recordings, fingering charts, etc.

Let me know, if you are interested in a hard cover copy. There are a few left: susannefroehlich1979@gmail.com

To make you more curious…


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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  1. Thank you for all your work, Susanne! In my opinion your dissertation is very interesting to read.



    1. Thank you very much, Lauren. I just found your comment 🙂
      Best wishes from Berlin, Susanne



  2. Thank you for your scholarly work on the recorder. The work on bore contour, hole size, bore extension as it affects overtone pitch, dynamics, and other qualities of the sound were very interesting. The portion of your work on the history and development of the recorder was excellent. I hope to become a better player through better understanding of the acoustics of the various recorders available and how better to play using the information your have provided. I look forward to reading your work in more detail.



    1. Dear David, thank you very much for your feedback. I am glad it helps you understand the recorder a little better and I hope you will enjoy the whole thesis. Best wishes, Susanne



  3. Thank you for all of the time and hard work you have put into this project. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I’m working on it!
    I look forward to where this instrument will go from here!



    1. Thank you so much, dear Emily! And yes, let’s see where the instrument will got from here 🙂



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