In 2006, an excavation of a 14th
century medieval latrine in Tartu, Estonia, resulted
in the discovery of a sopranino recorder in almost perfect
condition, presumably abandoned by its owner who didn't
feel like recovering it from the unsavoury place into
which it had fallen! The recorder has 7 holes in line
on the front, and a thumbhole. When I made a copy it
turned out that the bottom interval was a semitone,
giving a lowest note of a rather sharp E natural. The
material is probably maple, and the block beech.
This recorder is so different
from anything being made today, that I experimented
with larger sizes, using parallel bores, and the very
square window configuration seen in the original. There
is no beak, so these have to be played in a very upright
position with the mouth covering the front of the top
of the recorder. This was very uncomfortable with the
tenor size, so I gave it a windcap.
The sopranino and alto have a
leading note of E natural up to F natural, the tenor
and soprano have a leading note of B natural up to C.
The sound is very strong and open with a pronounced
chiff. The range appears at first sight to be limited,
but some experimentation with hole 9 [bell hole] gives
a range of almost 2 octaves. The characteristics that
give these instruments their sound are a substantial
wall thickness, the almost square window, and the small
fingerhole sizes. I tried experimenting with models
that worked with modern fingering, but the sound was
not the same.