Making Music

I am (used to be) a member of the Newtown Recorder Consort. I’ve played with the consort since 1995. In the beginning I was on soprano. At some point I switched to the alto, which I’ve played since Christmas 1959. A couple of years ago we lost our bass player and I switched again.

We stopped practicing in 2020 with the pandemic because wind instruments are especially good at virus transmission. The recorder, like any whistle, is a device to accelerate the performer’s breath to get a sound. With four of us, it meant the air was full of whatever viruses we had. Alas, we haven’t resumed.

The loss has been driving me nuts. For over twenty years and on most Tuesday nights we played. We didn’t limit ourselves to just baroque and classical music. We played folk tunes. We played jazz. I don’t remember playing Beethoven. I do remember Bach, Vivaldi, and Hayden.

We’re silent now, and there seems to be little impetus to start up again.

So I’ve been accompanying myself. I found a program, Audacity. I count out a preceding measure and then start playing. Audacity records it all. It will then play back in my headphones what I’ve recorded while it records what I’m playing now. I have a five-part arrangement of “Simple Gifts.” I recorded myself playing all five parts, and Audacity mixes them all together.

I started on lullabies for my grandson, aged seven months. It made up for the fact that I can’t remember lyrics. I can get the first two lines of the first verse out but then—nothing. This is not old age. It’s years of playing instrumental music. I’ve played “All Through the Night” with my sister since we were kids. I can get through “Sleep, My Child, l Let Peace Attend Thee” and then nothing. Recorder music rarely has the words. So now I play it in four parts through Audacity.

Barbershoppers have a goal called the fifth voice. It occurs when the harmony is so tight the the harmonics of the various voices combine to produce that fifth voice.

It works with recorders too, although I’ve heard it as a third voice playing duets. It doesn’t work with Audacity. I have the feeling that it’s a live performance thing.

You can hear the Daly Recorder Consort at

No reviews, please.

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