Renaissance recorder database

Vienna, SAM 164

This database started life as a much- used and scruffy photocopy of Bob Marvin’s 1972 article “Recorders and English Flutes in European Collections”, Galpin Society Journal 1972. Over the years, this indispensable information has been augmented with my own measurements and observations, and further information kindly supplied by other makers, and researchers. At the time of writing, I have probably seen 70% of all the surviving instruments myself and have detailed measurements of about 65% of them

This year, the whole database has been given a spring clean, a new look and has had a host of new features added. This spring clean has given me the impetus to add a lot of material I have been sitting on over the years, measurements, graphs and photographs, that I intend to digitalise and add to the database in a piecemeal fashion. I cannot promise that this will be a speedy process, since I will go through each entry individually and edit the information before making PDFs to add to the site, so if there is a specific recorder you would like extra information about, please contact me and I will try to prioritise it.

I have used all known, (to me) original recorders made with a typical “renaissance” construction. I have therefore included later instruments in one piece, such as those by J.C. Denner and G. Walch, which I find are interesting for comparison. With some help from museums and other researchers and makers, I hope that it may one day be possible to match more recorders into sets, or surviving members of sets, to add to our knowledge about the manufacture and use of these wonderful instruments. I would more than welcome any further contributions or corrections to this list, which I try to update periodically.

Notes on the fields used in the database

City: The current location of the instrument.

Collection: The museum, or collection currently housing the instrument. Contact and other details of public and private collections whose holdings include recorders can be found on the Recorder Home Page > Instrument Collections.

Inventory: Inventory number given by the museum or collection, sometimes abbreviated to Inv. No.

Type: I use the following criteria when naming recorder sizes, these are only intended as an aid to their physical classification and do not imply their musical usage.

Sopranino “size”:Speaking length <25 cm
Soprano “size”: Speaking length >25 cm, <32 cm
Alto “size”: Speaking length >32 cm, <45 cm
Tenor “size”:Speaking length <45 cm, no key
Basset “size”:Keyed without crook
Bass “size”:Keyed with crook
Great bass “size”: Keyed with crook, Speaking length >140 cm

Pitch: Lowest note of the instrument with all holes closed relative to a = 440 Hz. Pitch of extended recorders is given without taking into account the extension. + indicates a pitch about a quarter-tone sharp; – indicates a pitch about a quarter-tone flat.

Mark: A textural representation of the maker’s mark, usually stamped or branded into the wood below the window, and sometimes also on the end grain of the bell.

Maker: Where an instrument can be identified as being by a known maker, this will be indicated. Biographical and other information concerning historic instrument makers can be found on the Recorder Home Page > Historic Makers.

Speaking length: The length between the lower face of the bock and the end of the instrument. Sometimes abbreviated to SL

Max. bore diameter: The largest recorded diameter of the bore, not necessarily at the top of the bore.

Material: Material used in the construction of the recorder.

Data Sheet: Where one exists and has been digitalised, there will be a link here.

Bore graph: Where one exists and has been digitalised, there will be a link here.

Images: If I have taken photographs of the instrument, they will be added here

Abbreviations used

ML-J type: See: Maggie Lyndon-Jones [now Kilbey], A Checklist of Woodwind Instruments Marked !!, Galpin Society Journal 52 (1999): 243–80.

TOL: Total length in mm. This is given for entries where a museum catalogue  only has the total length measurement and I have not been able to measure the instrument myself.

est: Estimate of original pitch based on the speaking length, where I have no reliable information.

mod: Instrument has been drastically shortened or modified, pitch given is an estimate of the original pitch.

Important note to museums and owners

I have not knowingly used any copyright material on this site and where my measurements have been published elsewhere, I have simply given a link to the external publication. If you feel I have violated any agreement between us, or any copyright you hold, please contact me via e-mail and I will remove the offending material immediately. I would also be happy to provide a direct link to your establishment as a source for further information about the object.

Adrian Brown, September 2022

My e-mail address is: