Like harps, dulcimers, and flutes, recorders—which derive their name from the verb “record”—were considered to be bas, or soft-playing, instruments, particularly suited for interior performance. The gentle sonority and clear, sweet tone of recorders led to their Italian name, flauto dolce, or “sweet flute,” and made it natural for Baroque composers such as Telemann and Vivaldi to use them to mimic bird-calls. In this “Record” section each image is suffused with a contemplative air that echoes the softness of the instrument, the gentle warbling indicated by early definitions of the verb “record,” and the quiet murmurings of the “praiseworthy nightingale” depicted in Martin Engelbrecht’s engraving, Flötten, Hautbois, Flachinett, Fagot, und Clarinett (Flutes, Oboe, Flageolet, Bassoon, and Clarinet).
Miller’s Bassano tenor recorder in C is likely the oldest instrument in his collection. Dating from the early to mid-seventeenth century, it was made approximately one hundred years after the appearance of the earliest books giving definite information about the construction and use of musical instruments. By 1707, Jacques Hotteterre had published a tutor for the recorder, oboe, and transverse flute. This Principes de la Flute Traversiere was the earliest known book of instruction for the transverse flute. Hotteterre’s publications and reputation as a performer helped the transverse flute displace the recorder in artistic music, although the recorder has enjoyed a modern revival.
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