Bass recorder

Recorders from Michael Praetorius's Syntagma Musicum (1619), the fourth and fifth from the left show front and back view of an F bass (basset)
Musical instruments
String instruments

A bass recorder is a wind instrument in F3 that belongs to the family of recorders.

The bass recorder plays an octave lower than the alto or treble recorder. In the recorder family it stands in between the tenor recorder and C great-bass (or quart-bass) recorder.

Due to the length of the instrument, the lowest tone, F, requires a key. On modern instruments, keys may also be provided for low F, G, and G, and sometimes for C and C as well.

In the early 17th century, Michael Praetorius used the diminutive term "basset" (small bass) to describe this size of recorder as the lowest member of the "four-foot" consort, in which the instruments sound an octave higher than the corresponding human voices. Praetorius calls the next-lower instrument (bottom note B2) a "bass", and the instrument an octave lower than the basset (with bottom note F2) a Großbaß, or "large bass" (Praetorius 1619a, 34, and supplement plate IX; Sachs 1913, 50).

The bass is usually the lowest instrument of the recorder consort, but it may be used as an alto in "eight-foot" register in the so-called "great consort" or grand jeux, in which case two larger sizes of bass recorder take the lower parts and a tenor may be used as an optional descant (Baines 1967, 247).


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