Recorders have been known for producing perhaps not the most elegant of sounds and tunes. However, they are extremely affordable and require little to no maintenance which is one of the many reasons why schools choose the recorder to be an instrument that students can pick up in music lessons. The recorder needs no extensive musical training to be played and it is certainly not the most difficult instrument to master or start. However, its deep history may surprise you.
In the 1500s and 1600s, the recorder was played by many people in Europe. In fact, King Henry VIII of England had 76 recorders! Even famous poet William Shakespeare talks about recorders in his play, Hamlet, and John Milton talks about them in his poem ‘Paradise Lost’. Recorders from this period of time are now referred to as Renaissance recorders.
It was around the 1600s that creators of the recorder tried different methods to make it sound better. They also tried to have the recorder play more difficult music. The recorders produced around this time were called Baroque recorders. Thinner than their ancestors, the Renaissance recorders, these ones were made in several parts which would fit together.
After the first half of the 1700s, people started to prefer playing the flute and clarinet instead of the recorder. This might have been because of the fact that flutes are better for playing music which has a large range of notes. Flutes are also more suited to play music that requires more chromatic notes.
Now that you know the beginnings of the humble recorder, you may be able to better appreciate its simplicity. It has been the inspiration and muse for many art works and despite it being a simpler instrument, it has served well in teaching students the basic foundations of music.