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Recorder thumbhole question
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Author:  ganchan [ Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Recorder thumbhole question

I lost a tiny bit of the end of my left thumb many years ago. A few stitches fixed it up so you'd never notice unless you looked at it really closely, but sometimes when I half-hole the second octave on a recorder I kind of wish I still had that extra millimeter (or whatever it amounts to). I manage OK on soprano and alto recorders, but tenor is a hit or miss situation, especially on the high A for some reason. Maybe tenors are just cranky up there, but I notice that when the thumb lands just so, I can sail all the way up to the top with no squeaking or squawking. (I have about the same success rate whether "pinching" or "rolling.") I'm convinced that the sheer size of the tenor thumbhole is aggravating the problem.

1. Do tenor thumbholes vary in size from model to model at all? It looks like my Yamaha soprano, for instance, has a slightly larger thumbhole than my Aulos Haka soprano, though it might be an optical illusion....If that's the case, should I try a different tenor? I'm currently using an Aulos 211a ("for small hands"), but I might be able to spring for another affordable plastic model like a Yamaha or Woodnote.

2. Does this pretty much rule out my playing the bass recorder? I can only assume that the bass recorder's thumbhole would be even larger....

Author:  Kypfer [ Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

I've not tried a bass recorder, but tenors, like altos, do differ. I once had two of the same make and model older wooden instrument side-by-side and there were perceivable and repeatable differences between them. Differences between manufacturers are likely to be greater. Do try different models :)

Author:  Tim2723 [ Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

Yes, as you suspect, the bass recorder's thumb hole is proportionately larger. I can't help but wonder if a good flute technician could fit a recorder with keys for the thumb functions as are on many flutes; a larger and smaller hole covered by a double-acting keyworks of the sort often found at the bottom of a tenor recorder.

Author:  ganchan [ Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

I think only the big blocky Paetzold bass recorders have octave keys -- but that's proof enough that it can be done. If some technician or instrument customization company would offer a cheap octave double-key in various sizes to fit alto and larger recorders, it would get a lot of orders from players of other woodwind instruments who would love to keep enjoying such a "newfangled" convenience. The thumb would rest a bit lower than normal, but not enough to affect left-hand technique significantly.

Something like this:

Author:  Tim2723 [ Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

That's just exactly what I had imagined. Thanks for the pics and research; it makes the concept much clearer to envision.

I wonder too if replacing the single thumb hole with a double hole (like the C/C# bottom hole of a soprano) would be a useful option in a case like this. Instead of trying to accurately half-hole the thumb one might just uncover a smaller hole. It would be a more precise target to shoot for.

Author:  ganchan [ Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

Actually, isn't D (on soprano/tenor) the only note that requires a totally open thumb hole? because if that's the case, instruments that have a suitably in-tune alternative fingering for that note wouldn't need a double-key at all; a single key would either close the hole completely or open it halfway. (Or the thumb hole itself cut be cut in a half-moon shape.)

I've been told that adding an octave key would rob advanced players of the ability to tune individual notes on the fly. But to my mind, those advanced players probably wouldn't need this kind of a cheat anyway, unless they become physically disabled. This would mainly be helpful for lazy doublers who only play recorder occasionally, or for people with thumb problems....

Another example can be seen on this page about the Dolmetsch Millenium great bass and contrabass series (the picture toward the bottom of the page):

Author:  Kypfer [ Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

Actually, isn't D (on soprano/tenor) the only note that requires a totally open thumb hole?
... no, the C# fingering o XXO OOO , also the upper D# (Eb), both quite often needed if playing in D or Bb, which are not uncommon keys :wink:

Author:  Tim2723 [ Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recorder thumbhole question

Has anyone ever made a sub-contrabass instrument of any kind that actually made musical sounds?

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