The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple. It is distinguished from other members of the family by having holes for seven fingers (the lower one or two often doubled to facilitate the production of semitones) and one for the thumb of the uppermost hand. The bore of the recorder is tapered slightly, being widest at the mouthpiece end and narrowest towards the foot on Baroque recorders, or flared almost like a trumpet at the bottom on Renaissance instruments. Recorders can be made out of wood, plastic or ivory.
The recorder was popular in medieval times through the baroque era, but declined in the 18th century in favour of orchestral woodwind instruments, such as the flute, oboe, and clarinet. During its heyday, the recorder was traditionally associated with pastoral scenes, miraculous events, funerals, marriages and amorous scenes. Images of recorders can be found in literature and artwork associated with all of these. Purcell, Bach, Telemann and Vivaldi used the recorder to suggest shepherds and imitate birds in their music, a theme that continued in 20th-century music.
The recorder was revived in the 20th century, partly in the pursuit of historically informed performance of early music, but also because of its suitability as a simple instrument for teaching music and its appeal to amateur players. Today, it is often thought of as a child's instrument, but there are many professional players who demonstrate the instrument's full solo range. The sound of the recorder is remarkably clear and sweet, partly because of the lack of upper harmonics and predominance of odd harmonics in the sound.
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