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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:05 pm 
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Hey there, I'm new to this forum, so... hi! I'm quite sure here's where I post on recorders, and I hope I've come to the right place to ask for advice...

[SKIP THIS TO GET TO THE TECHNICAL PART]

As many of us have, I was introduced to the recorder in primary (in other parts, "elementary") school, and as many of us have, I thought the recorder was a, well... not so fantastic instrument. Years later, I picked up the flute (Boehm, that is), and after gaining mastery of the instrument, decided to take a peek at the world of pre-Boehm flutes. I marvelled at the delicacies having a instrument where the tone holes were unimpeded by keys, but never had the opportunity to get one of them. One day, out of pure randomness, I settled for something else that was keyless: the recorder.

I was at a Yamaha shop, and seeing the recorders, was naturally beckoned to it, being a woodwind player. I noticed strange "G"s and "B"s on the bags... "...no, I'm quite sure nobody builds recorders in the keys of G and B..." It took me a while to realise it stood for "German" and "Baroque" (although "Neo-Baroque" would be more appropriate), drawing from a sliver of memory when the local flute technician showed me a recorder fingering that was nothing like what I knew in recorderdom or flutedom: it was a Baroque system recorder. They were cheap: cheaper than my dinner, so I bought both to try out.

One thing I've always wanted to try was the Vivaldi concerti. It took me a while to be aware that the concerti I was playing on flute was actually commonly played on recorder (I couldn't find any flute recordings online, only recorder ones), and that baffled me a bit as to what technical capabilities lie in the recorder. Being familiar with memorising hoards of unfamiliar fingerings, I absorbed it all in a day and can now play, fairly well given that I've had the instruments for less than a week, an allegro movement from a Vivaldi concerto and some Bach flute sonata movements. The catch is this: I did it on the German system one.

[TECHNICAL PART (well, somewhat) STARTS HERE]

So my question is this... What EXACTLY is the MAJOR DISADVANTAGES of the German system as compared to the English one? As far as I have been able to read online, everyone says that the German system is inferior for the following reasons (more or less):

1) Ugly history: Apparently the inventor of the German system wasn't as bright as the English makers had hoped, and he modified the design to make it "easier to learn for beginners". (These guys have obviously never played a bassoon before.)

2) Inferior intonation: this applies mainly for second octave F# and G#. As far as I am concerned, I can navigate these perfectly fine, well, almost perfectly fine, as perfectly fine with every other note that nobody seems to be complaining about, with alternate fingerings. Do not doubt my sense of intonation here, I am not a newbie.

3) __________________: Yes, some of them seem to have an unwarranted hate towards the German system.

4) "Good makers don't make the German system": I'm not sure whether it's market forces at work, or whether it's because they know something I don't and they know that I don't know that I cannot rectify it.

I would like to have a good answer, otherwise... YOU WOULD HAVE LOST AN EXCELLENT RECORDER PLAYER TO THE DARK SIDE. MUAHHAHAHAHAHA. AND I would have lost $40 buying a new German system recorder. No seriously, if nobody gives me a satisfactory answer I'll stick to the German system.

That being said, IMHO, I think they're both inferior. Someone should reinvent the recorder again, and this time make something that's not the subject of hate. I do know that some makers are making Ganassi-style recorders, but I'm not going to chip in that much just yet.

Many many many thanks!

wkzh


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:14 pm 
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Lol. Nice post :)


Baroque fingering all the way - for the reasons you've stated :thumbsup:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:22 pm 
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James_Alto, thanks for being the first to reply a post by me! BUT I would appreciate some justfication of your preference, otherwise you'd be categorising yourself under no. 3...


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:49 pm 
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Number 3 will do :lol:


It still doesn't apply though - all of my recorders are German - Roessler; Mollenhauer, Moeck ....

Being a bass recorder player, we already have to deal with the sonic challenges of sounding for a larger instrument. The German fingering is not available in the UK, but when you play the bass recorder - the most striking problem .... is the intonation and volume of the notes after the low B (in the bass recorder and alto recorder - or low F for soprano and tenor players). The German fingering for this note [T X X X X O O O] requires a smaller 5th hole - easier to cover yes that's true, particularly for unkeyed holes, however this is a compromise, to avoid the complicated low B fingering for the bass recorder [T X X X X 0 X xx].

Play a simple scale in the key of F - you will instantly realise the volume problem related to the German fingering and you will have to compensate.

The other problem, maybe specific to bass recorders, relates to the same fingerings for an octave above for the same notes. With the Mollenhauer baroque system, the same note plays 'simplified' as [P X X X O X O O] for B and [P X X X X O X O] for Bb with none of the intonation problems associated with the German system.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:58 pm 
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I'll go with baroque fingering as well, mostly for the same reasons, but also because the baroque fingering is closer to that used on a whistle or six-hole flute than the "simplified system" is, so there's less of a "mind-set shift" for my decrepit old brain ;)

I play the different instruments for my own entertainment. I think some tunes can sound better on one instrument than another. Not having to consider many fingering options lets me concentrate my limited resources on actually playing the tune as a reasonable semblance of the original, without, for example, having to remember which C# I need :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:42 am 
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Kypfer, I can alternate between the two rather comfortably, actually: many years of piccolo playing has honed my ability to recall odd fingerings out of the blue. I think that's the problem: I'm comfortable with either one, though I do find the German one a bit more comfortable having no need to navigate certain strange finger motions, not that I can't, but I don't like it.

James_Alto, For the German system, I use [ P | X X X | O X O | X ] for F# and [ P | X X X | O X X | X ] for G# to get the correct intonation. For me, intonation is secondary: it's the maker's duty to design a good scale, not mine. And anyway, once again, many years of piccolo playing has...

About volume, perhaps I'll only see the problems when I try larger instruments...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:29 am 
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Quote:
I can alternate between the two rather comfortably, actually: many years of piccolo playing has honed my ability to recall odd fingerings out of the blue
... lucky old you :thumbsup:
You can take advantage of those low-priced german-fingered recorders that turn up on eBay occaisionally. On eBay.uk, some Moecks, for example, sell for around 50% more if they have baroque as opposed to german fingering :o

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:35 am 
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Wow, the perfect market for microeconomic analysis!

You know what, I think I've made a decision: I'll invest more time in the English system, for the simple reason that if I ever get anything high end (I wonder how likely that is...) I'd only have that available... Well, at least it makes most Baroque flute rep. easier!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:38 pm 
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Sounds like the German system would actually work out quite well for you!

Many players do learn to decorate around the loss of volume associated with the fifth hole. It's a little bit of a nuisance, especially in slow passages. I can imagine doing slow airs on it with the bass recorder, and that 5th hole would really mess things up. But since you've decided to do what most of us do, and stick with baroque fingering, welcome to the baroque crowd :D

For the cost savings - there's nothing wrong with the German system at all. Quality recorders (second hand) are very cheap compared to flutes, and there is less to go wrong with them too - being mostly keyless). I don't think you'd be happy with the bass recorder though - I use 3-4 keys on mine, so you only get the open hole experience (partially). Equally, many flute players, even Irish flute players, have keyed flutes - no open holes in the keys, like the possibilities for the Boehm flute. These really unlease the power of the Boehm flute (Shame about the F natural and F sharp positions and lack of conical bore ... no wait ..shame it's not an Irish flute!)

Many of us learn different fingerings - for the C concert flute....then transposing the alto flute (for sheet music); the penny whistle; the dizi; the quenacho...the clarinet...it becomes second nature to apply a set of fingerings, to a specific flute, just like your piccolo music - you can read music 20 ledger lines above what most of us would deem safe lol.


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