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Music Theory for Recorder: Miscellaneous

This final page is a collection of music theory topics that don't fit into the previous sections. You can mix and match these topics in any order. Here you will find fingering charts, an explanation of clefs and how they relate to recorder ranges, technical hints on how to read music written for a human choir, and a brief explanation of transposing instrument families. As before, you will find more detailed explanations for all of these in the NOTES.

Go To

Blockis Recorder Fingerings provides an extensive collection of charts to figure out recorder fingerings.

Personal Fingering Chart


Print out this blank template for each instrument owned and record alternate fingerings for that particular instrument.  Also available is another fingering chart that shows possible fingerings for extremely high notes.

Examples of Articulation

YouTube Video: The Flute Coach

Originally conceived for flutes, these instructions adapt well to the types of articulation we come across in our recorder repertoire.

The Curious History of the Clef

YouTube Video: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

A succinct history of the various clef signs in Western music.

Recorder Ranges and Special Clef Signs


All recorders start either on their lowest F or C and ascend two octaves + 1 note. This chart shows recorder ranges at actual concert pitch.

Bach Chorale 74 SATB at Concert Pitch


Score for Bach Chorale 74.


Improvisation to a Ground

PDF, MP3 Playback, and YouTube Video:
Jordi Savall

Improvisation to a Ground is a skill Renaissance and Baroque musicians needed to learn. Here we have the ground called Passamezzo Romanesca (Greensleeves) with written out improvisation examples for recorders, and also a sound file with strings playing only the ground for you to practice along with. Be sure to read the Improvisation to a Ground entry in the NOTES for more details.

With Improvisation Examples

00:00 / 02:45

Strings Only

00:00 / 03:38

BACH Chorale 7 SATB

00:00 / 03:04

JANEQUIN Ce sont galants SATB

00:00 / 02:05

EAST O do not run away SSA

00:00 / 02:34

HANDEL Gavotte (Orestes)  SAB

00:00 / 01:41

"Alto Up" Exercises

PDF and MP3 Playback

The ranges of the Alto recorder and the human Alto voice are an octave apart.  Sometimes the Alto recorder is given a human Alto part to play.  The recorder player must read these notes an octave higher than written.  This file presents 4 pieces from the Play at Home Series designed as an exercise in this skill.

Reading Hymn Format

PDF, MP3 Playback, and YouTube Video: 12tone

Recorder players occasionally are asked to read from standard hymnals. This requires special sight-reading adjustments for some of the parts (see Reading Hymn Format in the Notes). As a challenge, click on "Download File" to view all 371 of Bach's Chorales in hymn format and try sight-reading a few pages for a real mental exercise! The videos in the two tiles below can be played along with and are the first of a whole series of videos of all the Chorales.

BACH Chorale 5 TBGC

00:00 / 02:39

BACH Chorale 7 TBGC

00:00 / 03:04

BACH Chorale 74 TBGC

00:00 / 02:00

BACH Chorale 117 TBGC

00:00 / 01:36

1. Aus meines Herzens Grunde

PDF and YouTube Video: Synthetic Classics

The video shows the first Chorale in Bach's 371 Chorales. This YouTube playlist containing all the Chorales can be used to play along with just as you do with the Play at Home sound files. Unfortunately, the edition of the Chorales used by the arranger for the Play at Home Series uses a different numbering system. When searching for Bach's Chorales online, it is much better to use the German titles than any of the many numbering systems.

Bach 371 Chorales

2. Ich dank' dir, lieber Herre

PDF and YouTube Video: Andrew Remillard

This is the second Chorale in Bach's 371 Chorales.

Why Do We Have Transposing Instruments

YouTube Video: Jesse Strickland

A quick explanation of why we have transposing instruments.

Concert Pitch and Transposing Instruments

YouTube Video: Brad Harrison Music

A longer explanation of how to work with transposing instruments.

Transposing Instruments

MP3 Playback

00:00 / 01:52

Score and Audio File

This sound file can be used with the hypothetical 'transposing recorder score' in the attached pdf.

Introduction to the Keyboard

YouTube Video: Little Kids Rock

An absolute-beginner presentation of how pitches are arranged on a keyboard. More than any other instrument, a keyboard gives us an excellent visual representation of many music theory concepts. For this reason, all musicians should have at least a basic acquaintance with the layout of a keyboard.

How to Play Any Major Scale on the Piano

YouTube Video: Pianote

Scales explained using a keyboard. This gives us a very good visual representation of how the half-steps and whole-steps are combined to make a scale.

How to Play Chords on the Piano

YouTube Video: Musicians Inspired

Again, we see how a keyboard gives us a very good visual representation of the concepts of intervals and chords.

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