On the Recorder – Which Letter is Each Hole?
To understand what the title of this article means, ie On The Recorder, Which Letter Is Each Hole, then you need to firstly know what a recorder is, what is a letter and what fingering is. Then one can put them altogether.
What is a Recorder?
The recorder is a musical instrument made of wood or plastic It is a hollow tube in two or three sections with a mouth piece at one end, an opening at the other end and holes.
They come in different sizes ranging from small, higher sounding recorders to larger, lower sounding recorders.
Each recorder is either in the key of C or key of F, which means that the letters for each hole will be different between the two keys. For example the lowest note for recorders in the key of C is C and the lowest note for recorders in F is F. Both are fingered the same.
What is a Letter?
“Letter” refers to the letters of the alphabet used in music to name notes and is called the musical alphabet. The musical alphabet consists of the first seven letters of the alphabet, A B C D E F G.
There are other note names related to each of these seven letters. They are sharp notes( # ) and flat notes ( b ). Each musical alphabet letter has a sharp and flat note associated with it ie A# B# C# D# E# F# G# Ab Bb Cb Db Eb Fb Gb. A note raised by a semitone ( half-tone ) is a sharp note. A note lowered by a semitone is a flat note. If you can visualise a piano with the white and black keys, then a semitone is the closest key to the right or left of the letter; it is the closest interval of sound. Please be aware that there are sharp notes that sound the same as flat notes eg an A# sound is the same as a Bb sound. These notes are called enharmonic notes and have the same pitch.
A complete range of notes in an octave could go like the following two examples.
Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G or
G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G
Each line represents the same notes.
The musical alphabet repeats itself over and over again to the range of the musical instrument. The recorder family have a range of around two octaves. It can vary depending on recorder type.
What is the Fingering on the Recorder? ie which letter is each hole?
When musicians press finger tips or pads down on the holes in varying configurations it is called fingering. Each fingering represents a particular note and pitch of sound. Sound is created by blowing through the mouthpiece and getting a vibration air.
There are over two octaves of fingerings or notes on the recorder.
Read below for Fingering on the Recorder
When you play any wind instrument the left hand goes at the top.
A recorder has a thumb hole underneath and 5 single holes plus 2 double holes on top. The holes will be called the following:
Th = left hand thumb
1, 2, 3 = left hand 2nd, 3rd, 4th fingers single holes
4, 5 = right hand 2nd, 3rd fingers single holes
6, 7 = right hand 4th 5th fingers double holes
Lets start with the recorders in the key of C.
note names: fingering
B: Th, 1
A: Th, 1, 2
G: Th, 1, 2, 3
E: Th, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
F#: Th, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
D1: Th, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
C2: Th, 2 second octave C
D2: 2 second octave D
C1: Th, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
ie all holes covered for a lowest sound on the instrument.
People usually start learning the notes B, A, G. They play variety of BAG pieces and exercises to help the process of remembering the fingering and reading the notes on sheet music. Then they learn the other notes step by step with pieces and exercises to play
To produce second octave sounds the left hand thumb covers half a hole.
Recorders in the key of F have F1 as the lowest note, with all holes covered; equivalent to C1. So basically fingering patterns remain the same for each keyed recorder but the note name changes.
Recorders in C first octave notes = C D E F G A B
Recorders in F first octave notes = F G A Bb C D E
As the learning process continues then more notes/letters and fingerings are learnt. A finger chart is available in tutor books as well as separate fingerings on pages throughout in the step by step learning process. To help you remember fingerings you need to play play play with guidance of a teacher, tutor book or both.
With knowledge of what a recorder, letter and fingering is plus examples of what notes and fingerings a beginner meets you are on your way to playing great tunes. The query of what letter for each hole is beginning to get answered.
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