Cover image for The recorder today
The recorder today
O'Kelly, Eve.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Physical Description:
xiv, 179 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML990.R4 O5 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This book is about one of the most widely played and yet least understood of instruments, the recorder. Initially revived at the turn of the century, it now has an impressive modern repertoire, much of it using innovative instrumental techniques. The aim of the present work has been to make available to players, composers, teachers and interested non-specialists the sort of practical information they need in order to approach the modern recorder repertoire with understanding. History, music, technique and the leading figures in the field are discussed and described in an informal and readable style. The scope and content of the catalogue of contemporary compositions contained in the second part of the book will come as a surprise to many. Out of about 800 works currently in print Eve O'Kelly has made a selection of some 400, classified by instrumentation which will be of tremendous use to players and teachers at all levels. As a work of reference for the specialist, or as a companion for the amateur player, this book is invaluable.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

O'Kelly, a British recorder player, provides a well-balanced and up-to-date account of the 20th-century revival of the recorder, its place in our musical world, and the principal personalities who have contributed to its acceptance as a serious instrument. A chapter describes the instrument itself, with attention to acoustics, the craft of recorder making, and what might be implied by a "modern" as opposed to a historically derived instrument. Four chapters contain the author's principal contribution, a survey of recorder music from the 1930s to c. 1988, with the greatest enthusiasm and space given to those avant-garde works of the 1960s and early 1970s that go beyond the technical resources of the historical instrument to the extended techniques that were being developed for all woodwinds during those years. A separate chapter attempts to categorize and document such techniques by quoting from scores that call for each technique and explaining how it is produced. This chapter is supplemented by an appendix of nonstandard fingerings used for dynamic, timbrel, and microtonal effects. A catalog of some 400 compositions has been selected from the 20th-century works (approximately 800) known to the author, the criteria for inclusion being musical merit and current availability. O'Kelly's work is the first in English devoted to this topic; it will be indispensable to composers and serious recorder players and complements books about the history and conventional technique of the recorder such as Edgar Hunt's The Recorder and Its Music (rev. ed., London, 1977) and Kenneth Wollitz's The Recorder Book (1982). K. L. Taylor Kenyon College

Table of Contents

List of illustrationsp. vii
List of musical examplesp. viii
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgementsp. xiii
Notational conventionsp. xiv
Part I History, Music and Techniquep. 1
1 The revivalp. 1
Arnold Dolmetschp. 1
Other developmentsp. 4
Rediscovery of recorder makingp. 5
Mass-productionp. 7
Design problemsp. 9
2 The contemporary recorderp. 11
Personalitiesp. 12
The recorder worldwidep. 17
3 The recorderp. 20
Derivation of the namep. 20
Description of the instrumentp. 21
Musical characteristicsp. 25
Materialp. 26
Acousticsp. 27
Recorder designp. 28
The craft of recorder makingp. 32
Design innovationsp. 34
A 'modern' recorder?p. 35
4 Conventional recorder music and the heritage of the Baroquep. 37
Early compositionsp. 38
The 1950s and afterp. 44
5 The avant-gardep. 50
Earliest examplesp. 51
New techniquesp. 57
Other significant compositionsp. 59
6 The theatrical elementp. 64
Focus on the performerp. 66
Vocal/instrumental techniquesp. 70
Graphic scoresp. 72
Electro-acoustic musicp. 77
7 Modern techniquesp. 82
Non-standard fingeringsp. 84
Articulationp. 91
Vibratop. 94
Special effectsp. 97
8 Conclusionsp. 116
The recorder in amateur and educational musicp. 116
Repertoirep. 117
Compositions of staturep. 118
The recorder nowp. 119
Settling downp. 122
New groundp. 124
Appendix Non-standard fingeringsp. 127
Part II Select Catalogue of Twentieth-Century Recorder Musicp. 137
Index to cataloguep. 166
Publishers and Music Information Centresp. 169
Bibliographyp. 171
General indexp. 175