Supercorder!
Keyed and Baroque fingered Alto Recorders

NEW! (April 18, 2008): Video Clips illustrating the features of the Supercorder!

New 2015/11: Recorders and Supercorder: Some Tips and Principles: Some recorder design notes for aspiring makers, general and Supercorder specific


Nicholas Chedeville: ChedevilleSonataGm.wav
Fully keyed Supercorder & Grand Piano, live recording July 2007.


Baroque Supercorder, Dec 2006
African Blackwood, Single piece, solderless keys in gold plated brass
Click Picture for Sound Sample
 


Now with "thumb guide" instead of "thumb rest". The "guide" offers flexibility of thumb placement, the "rest" a firmer grip. (Order with either option. April 2006)

Sound Sample of this instrument
(Presented with apollogies for the lack of talent and poor recording quality.)

Top: Fully Keyed Supercorder (7 keys, ebony)
Center: 5-key Supercorder (indian rosewood)
Bottom: Modern Baroque (goncalo alves).


Introduction

SupercorderTM is a new design of F-alto recorder with exceptionally strong and even sound power throughout all the notes of its extended chromatic range.

It is made easier to play by the Bb-B key for the right index finger alone* that replaces these two worst forked fingerings with strong, well tuned tones and simplifies note sequences in every key. The finger covers the hole lightly for B and, without any other movement, presses firmly to close the key for Bb and notes below.

Other keys (F-F# and E-G) on the two fourth fingers make the entire extended low range strong and even, with simple note transitions for all chromatics. A third pair of ring keys on the fully keyed model employs the middle right hand fingers to eliminate the last weaker 'forked' fingerings, C# and Eb. All the notes from G# up to E can be fingered the same in both octaves.

The pitch control hole covered by the player's sensitive lower lip provides the tune-by-ear finer pitch control of most modern wind instruments for flexible dynamic range and a lovely, expressive vibrato.

The voicing changer lever, operated by a slight twist of the playing position, makes low notes and lower forked notes more stable and stronger. It can also be used to flatten the pitch to eliminate sharpness when blowing quite loudly. The effect is akin to shading the window with the hand.

The Baroque SupercorderTM recorder is a Baroque fingered F-alto recorder, equivalent to other 'modern' long-bore recorders but with the additional Supercorder features other than keys: the adjustable porcelain mouthpiece with a wider, smoother windway, built in thumbrest, pitch control hole and voicing adjuster lever.
 
 
 

* "Today I tried the new type of key for the B and B flat ~ invented by Craig Carmichael ~ on the Tarasov alto. I was really impressed by the ease and stability with which it works. A simple idea that really improves the sound as well. It gives the development of the "21st century" recorder many new possibilities."

Karel van Steenhoven, Amsterdam Loeki Stardust [Recorder] Quartet, March 16th, 2003



 
 
Supercorder General Advantages
Designed for Strong Sound with a wide crescent windway of smooth porcelain and a deep window, and a "modern" long bore profile
Strong, Best Tuned Notes and Easier Fingerings with Keys:
* low F# & G with the F/F# key pair  (all models) 
* B & Bb (both octaves) with index-finger-alone B-Bb key  (3-, 5- & 7-key) 
* low E, G# & A with G/E key pair     (5- & 7-key models) 
* C# & Eb with C#/Eb key pair       (7-key model) 

The 7-key "fully keyed" Supercorder replaces All weaker forked fingerings with strong, well-tuned notes.

Smooth, easy fine-tuning, in-tune dynamics p to ƒ, and lovely pitch-vibrato with natural-feel tuning-vibrato port, activated by lip
Voicing Adjuster improves playability and strength of lowest notes
Hygenic, non-allergenic porcelain mouthpieces that can be replaced
Near 3-octaves practical pitch range (extremes: low Eb to sopranino high G, chromatic: 41 notes, or 3 octaves and a major third.) (I've found that I can get a weak low D instead of Ebby sticking a little brass tube in the Eb tone hole. That's as low as a voice flute!
Built-in thumbrest (wood turning)
Hard Case included, to keep a fine, keyed instrument safe

There's more to a Supercorder than a typical alto recorder. It does more, but if you don't like the sounds of the items in the table below, perhaps Supercorder isn't for you:
 
Supercorder Feature Player Attention
Three screws under the porcelain beak adjust the windway position. Since the player is able to replace mouthpieces and adjust the windway position for best sound, there is no need to send the instrument out for revoicing. Player should be prepared to adjust the screws when necessary with a small screwdriver and check the sound, and repeat, until good sound and response is obtained.
Except for the Baroque model (Baroque fingered), there are new (mostly easier) fingerings with stronger, optimally tuned notes. Except on the Baroque model, new fingerings must be learned.
The fine-tuning port allows play-by-ear tuning as is common with most woodwind instruments, a lovely pitch-vibrato, and fade-out end notes without drop of pitch. Learning new lip-tuning technique and to adjust tuning at different dynamics. 
Supercorders are a unique new type of instrument. As such, they are hand-made and smaller details are still evolving. Until such a time as production becomes more standardized, players should be prepared to see some variation between units, and parts that may sometimes look a bit "homemade". (Ask for photos of a unit to be emailed to you if desired before ordering.)

 
 
Now Four Models Baroque Supercorder Economy ("German") Supercorder Original Supercorder Fully-Keyed Supercorder
Model Advantages Standard Baroque Fingerings, lowest cost, lightest. 2-1/2 chromatic octaves to high C# or above, no part-holed fingers. Eliminates Forked B's & Bb's - easier 'German' fingering but without the problem notes: good, easy B's and high C# as well as good Bb's. Adds also a uniformly strong, vibrant low range and over 3 octave range to sopranino high G. Optimum Strength,  Tuning and Fingerings for All Notes. Most versatile for mixed ensembles and general music.
Model Drawbacks Retains recorder weak notes, compromise tunings, and forked fingerings. Retains some weak 1st octave notes and compromise tunings. Retains weaker C#, Eb and compromise tunings. Most costly, heaviest.
Low Note (over middle C) F(E or Ebby bell stopping) F(E or Eb by bell stopping) E (Eb or D by bell stopping) E (Eb or D by bell stopping)
Keys F-F# pair (2 keys) F-F# pair, B-Bb key (3 keys) F-F# pair, B-Bb key, G-E pair (5 keys) F-F# pair, B-Bb key, G-E pair, C#-D# pair (7 keys)
Base Price ($Cdn) 600 (quilted bag) 
700 (hard case)
750 (quilted bag) 
850 (hard case)
1000 1200
To the base price, add wood option price (below), price of any other desired options or accessories (below), and shipping charges (on 1.2 to 1.5 Kg. Please ask). An extra mouthpiece (beak & block) is supplied with all units.

Subtract $100 if you prefer a quilted cloth bag case instead of the hard "flute" case. This is recommended only for the 'Baroque' and 'German' models.



 
 
 
Wood Option Price ($Canadian)
Cherry, Maple, Arbutus (Madrone), Dogwood, Purpleheart 0
Goncalo Alves (Tigerwood) 50
Pau Ferro (Santos Rosewood), Cambodian Rosewood 150
Indian Rosewood, Cocobolo 200
Kingwood 250
Ebony, African Blackwood (Grenadilla) 350
Wood characteristics are described below.

Modern Baroque Alto is along the lines of the Mollenhauer/Paetzold Modern Alto or the Ehlert alto, ie with just F and F# keys. While this type lacks the advantages of stronger notes (except low F, F# and G) with easier fingerings, there are no new fingerings to learn for experienced Baroque-fingered recorder players. Normal lowest note is F, with a weaker E available by bell-stopping.

Sound sample of the Modern Baroque model:2KeySample1.mp3 It plays the notes, low F, E, F and up the scale chromatically. Note the stability and even strength of the low range (even G#). Naturally it sounds rather thin by the time it reaches D4, the top note.

3-key Economy Supercorder, otherwise stated the "Modern Baroque" with the B-Bb key, but no low-G-low-E-key pair. Normal lowest note is F, with a weaker E available by bell-stopping.

5-key Original Supercorder provides uniformly strong, even low notes, to E instead of F. Only C# and Eb retain baroque forked fingerings, slightly weaker than unforked. The low G key on the left 4th finger requires some playing practice, but on the positive side, G# and A are both stronger and G# is the same to play in Both octaves (no double hole). Normal lowest note is E, with a weaker Eb or D available by bell-stopping (insert extender tube for D).

7-key Fully Keyed Supercorder replaces all weaker forked fingerings with easier keyed fingerings via two ring keys. Eb is the same as E but with right-hand 2 also pressed, and Db is as D but with right-hand 3, the same in both octaves. F#2, which is hard to get in tune on most recorders, is played well tuned as  o xoo oxoo. Normal lowest note is E, with a weaker Eb available by bell-stopping. Nothing in this world is perfect, and with the 7-key model, some high notes change: E as  % xxo xxoo  is less stable than with other units and an alternate is preferred (% xoo oooo, % xox xxoo), high F is played % xox xoxo, and third octave A (% xoo oxxo) is often a bit sharp unless 2 is part-holed (% x%o oxxo). For C and D, the keys are no help though arguably D, E and perhaps F are marginally stronger, but when Eb or Db is wanted, they're worth their more than their weight in nickel-silver, if not gold. Have you ever thought of middle F as a weak note? Well, now all the nearby notes are at least as loud!

Supercorders in Stock:

* 7-key in black stained maple, specially turned thin with lighter keys, lightweight ($1000)

* 2-key (Baroque fingerings) black stained maple & arbutus/madrone (head, body), gold plated brass keys, in cloth case ($600)

Below are units are earlier made and/or prototype units which may not look perfect, or in certain cases may be fingered a bit differently to the chart on certain high notes.

* 5-key supercorder in purpleheart, nickel-silver keys (850 $Canadian, pictured on right, at top of page)

* 5-key in purpleheart, nickel-silver keys (850 $C) (yes, that's two similar)

* 5-key in indian rosewood, gold-plated brass keys (1050 $C)

* 5-key in purpleheart, silver-tinned brass keys (not very smooth or shiny - a prototype) (600 $C)

* 7-key in purpleheart, nickel-silver keys (1100 $C)
 
 

image - Woods for Recorders
Recorder woods in stock. (Also Apple, Cherry, Arbutus (Madrone))

Wood Options: The Role of Wood in Recorder Sound

Purpleheart
* a hard, dense tropical hardwood from Brazil to central America
* wine to purple in color with subdued grain patterns:
* strong - not prone to splitting, doesn't chip or check readily.
* Somewhat more coarse than rosewood, but select pieces are relatively fine grained.
* Probably less allergenic than rosewoods.
* Tends to "fur-up" more when dampened. (the bores are re-smoothed after playing, before shipping.)

Maple, Cherry, Arbutus, Apple, etc - These are softer woods that swell more with moisture, but economical. I suggest them only if you definitely want a lighter-weight instrument or really like the wood.

Goncalo Alves or Tigerwood - somewhat less dense and softer than rosewood, but still in the tough tropical hardwoods category, and lighter colored with dark stripes in the grain.

Indian Rosewood - Brazilian rosewood being unavailable, this is (I expect) the most common recorder rosewood. it ranges form moderately light with a fine grain to darker brown with a coarser grain.
 

Cambodian Rosewood - North America's only(?) dealer in Cambodian Rosewood (AKA Southeast Asian Rosewood or Dalbergia Bariensis) is right here in town! Thus, I can get good deals on this lovely rosewood which is perhaps on a par with Brazilian Rosewood (it's slightly denser) and other fine woodwind woods. (Unfortunately, I don't have any that's well seasoned yet.)


 

Cocobolo - a true (Dalbergia) rosewood that is plasticy smooth with outrageously colorful orange, red and black grain patterns. An excellent recorder wood except that many people are allergic to it. With Supercorder porcelain mouthpieces, this should be of less concern, but irritated fingers and lower lip area are still possible if you're susceptible.

Pau Ferro, aka "Santos Rosewood"
* Not a true rosewood, but has colorful patterns like Brazilian rosewood
* waxy smooth, unlike real rosewood.

Lilac - (These are seasoning and cannot be completed or shipped immediately [Sept 2005].) There may be 1 or 2 voids in the surface filled with lilac sawdust (from broken off branches), not extending to the bore. Beautiful figured patterns with light sapwood and more purple heartwood. Harder than maple but not as hard as the tropical woods. Since these are whole branches bored and turned, expansion with moisture should be pretty even around the circumference.

Kingwood - Another fine rosewood species. Tan brownish heartwood with a beautiful grain and light sapwood.

Ebony - Dark brown to black. Hard, dense, smooth and rather fine grained.

African Blackwood, aka "Grenadilla" - This rosewood is usually considered the premium woodwind instrument wood, the wood of choice for clarinets and oboes. It is naturally oily and expands little with moisture. Dark to black. Hard, dense, smooth and fine grained.

Other woods... please ask - subject to availability and price of the wood.


Bass or Contrabass Supercorder?

I may consider doing a Bass or Contrabass SupercorderTM (most probably bass - basset) if there is interest. If you want me to drop you a line if/when I decide to, or if/when they become available, please send me a message now. Be sure to write the words "bass supercorder" in the subject line - that's how I plan to look up correspondence about them at any later date.

I have no plans for a tenor size at this time as the stretches are awkward, and the alto will after all play down to Eb,or to D with the extender tube, the range of voice flute. And I have no plans for a soprano or smaller. (The alto Supercorder plays the entire soprano scale.)



 

Supercorder Shop Manual Page


Supercorder Sound Samples

These are more recent sound samples than those below with earlier designs and voicings.

SupercorderSample3.mp3

DynamicsSample.mp3

we now return you to the remnants of the original regularly scheduled web page that needs the overhaul...


Older Sound Samples

Here are two samples of the prototype "Supercorder" playing duets with a violin. Both instruments were approximately equally distant from the recording microphone and equally amplified.

Sound Sample1:     MerryGoRound.wav     (in F)
View Score:     MerryGoRound.html or MerryGoRoundPg1.GIF & MerryGoRoundPg2.GIF

Sound Sample 2:     NauticalAir.wav     (G Major)

For other samples of the prototype playing, find the "Superrecorder" samples on my MP3s page, CraigsSoundFiles.html, which includes the alto supercorder in all the works other than The Highwayman suite. (The Modern Alto recorder in Highwayman has some of the supercorder improvements.)

Here is a sound sample of one of my first actual supercorders: SupercorderSample1.MP3

Here is a quick preliminary sound sample of a finished supercorder: SupercorderSample2.mp3 .

Here are some samples of the same supercorder playing some of my trios with a violin and a bassoon.

SeaShanty.mp3
MarshMarch.mp3
OnTheMountainside.mp3
Here are some duet bits with the pictured Supercorder and the Bassoon.
DuetSample1.mp3
DuetSample1.mp3
 

Playing Supercorder

Supercorder has a few fingering differences, mostly easier, with its keys on 3 fingers. All chromatic notes up to and beyond C4 (in fact, to G4 - same as sopranino - is usual) are available, without bell stopping. Second octave B to C# becomes a single finger transition. Many notes are stronger and better tuned. (Low Eb1 is available by fingering low-E and bell-stopping.)

The expressive vibrato and the ability to play softly in-tune are easily practiced. For vibrato, the flute is essentially 'shaken' up and down, making held notes attractive.

The player will also soon notice that low notes are less "fragile" - they can be tongued more sharply and blown hard with good tone and without overblowing.


Ordering:SupercordersTM and Carmichael's Modern Baroque recordersare ordered directly from me.

To Order, or for more info: Please contact me.

Postal:
Craig Carmichael
820 Dunsmuir Road
Victoria BC
Canada   V9A 5B7

Phone: 1-250-384-2626 (Pacific time, GMT -8:00, -7:00 summer.)

E mail: craig@      (Please have the word "Supercorder" in your subject line.)
       saers.com
 

If you wish to try out a Supercorder, please let me know. You must purchase it or return it within 10 days of receipt. You are responsible for the return shipping if you return it. For orders where a new instrument is to be made, orders to be prepaid before shipping have priority over "try it on spec" shipments, however the latter are of course less risk of possible dissapointment to the potential customer.

Included: Two piece Supercorder, hard case, mop-out stick & chamois, owner's booklet with basic and extended fingering charts, tips and ideas. (Soft bag is standard for Modern Baroque.)
 

Replacement Parts ($ Canadian)

Beak (Porcelain, Gold Glazed Top) - $35
Block (Porcellain) - $35
Beak & Block Pair - $60
 - also available in Ceramic -

Beak Clamp & Nuts (Brass) - $15
Low-D extender pipe (brass) - $5


Comparisons

In the absence of unbiased "consumer reports" for modern recorders, much less for the new SupercorderTM, I present the following comparisons. They reflect the characteristics of the latest 7-key "Sup". I have tried to be objective, but I make no guarantee and take no responsibility for their accuracy. And, even within one model of recorder from one manufacturer there are often substantial differences. The comparisons are based on my limited experience and for some instruments, simply study of the pictures plus knowledge of the general effect of certain sizes of holes in certain positions. "Modern" units have long bores and keys that make low E (if available), F, F# and G much louder than baroque recorders. Windways are wider (side-to-side) for stronger sound: the "sup"s crescent windway is the widest. Owing to the "Sup"s automatic embouchure adjuster, the low notes (Eb to Bb) may be attacked (tongued) more strongly than on the "Mod" without overblowing. "Baroque" assumes a typical instrument; "soloistic" baroque recorders may achieve better strengths.
 
 

Anticipatible Lower Octave Note Strengths: SupercorderTM and Some Other "Modernized" Recorders.

1 = weak to 3 = strong. "+" or "-" signs denote expected slighter differences. Lower notes tend to be the most inconsistent on most recorders, and the hardest to make heard when other instruments are also playing, so consistent strength is most important in this octave.
 
 
  Note  Sup Mod Ehl Har  Baroque
  E,F,
  F#,G   3   3   3   3    2
  Eb     3   2+  2+  2+   2-
  D      3   3   3   3    2
  C#     3   2   2   2    1
  C      3   3   3   3    2
  B      3   1~2 1~2 1~2  1
  Bb     3   1   1   1    1
  A      3   2   2   2    2-
  G#     3   1   1   3    1--
  G      3   3   3   3    1
  F#     3   3   3   3-   1--
  F      2+  2+  ?   ?    1-
  E      2   2?  -   ?    -
  Eb     1~2 -   -   -    -
 

Anticipatable Tunings Table (for typical "problem notes")

! = good tuning, ~ means the note is weak and unstable, and ? means I have nothing to base even an educated guess on. The Supercorder's tuning control, of course, makes flat (b) tunings uncritical: they are easily brought into tune. Sharp (#) forked tunings can be flattened by adding more "forking" fingers, but this usually makes the note weak and-or unstable.
 
 
  Note  Sup Mod Ehl Har** Baroque***
  F#2    !   b   ?   ?     ! to b ; varies by model
  C#2    !   #   #   #     #
  B1     !   #   #   #     #
  G#1    !   ~   ~   !     ~
  F#1    !   !   !   !     ~

Pitch Adjust Control

  Sup       - Excellent!
  Mod       - none
  Ehl       - none
  Har       - very awkward.
  Baroque   - none
  AB's Suif - looks reasonably good. (this is a baroque design with added pitch control)

3rd Octave Fingerings

For these, I only know the fingerings of Supercorder and "Mod". In general, less fingers are needed down for the "Sup", and there is no part-holing of fingers below D4 (top of standard soprano fingering chart). The "Ehl" is said to be uncertain above Bb3. The "Sup" and "Mod" are uncertain above C4, but some "Sup"s can wheeze up to G4 chromatic (top of standard sopranino fingering chart!), while fingerings are only given to D4 on "Mod" with part-holing of fingers required above about G3. The "Har"s response is unknown to me.


Supercorder and Modern Baroque Fingerings

SYMBOLS USED
o = open hole or key
x = closed hole or key
 / = part-holed (usually thumb)
* = closed, open or part-holed: sometimes little difference, or one may work or be tuned best.

4th left finger: e = e & g key pressed (straight finger); g = g key pressed (curved finger)
1st right finger: b: B "pipe" tonehole lightly covered; x: press harder to close Bb key as well
4th right finger: f: F# key pressed (straight finger); x: both keys pressed (curved finger)
 

    t 1238 4567    (8 = left 4th finger)

eg  x xxo oooo  - D



7-key Model

D1 x xxxe xxxx b t  (b: bell stopped on leg; t: 'low D' brass tube in low Eb tonehole)
Eb x xxxe xxxx b    (b: bell stopped on leg)
E   x xxxe xxxx

F1 x xxxg xxxx
F# x xxxg xxxf
G   x xxxg xxxo
G# x xxx  xxxo
A   x xxx  xxoo
Bb x xxx  xooo
B   x xxx  booo        (b: B "pipe" tonehole lightly covered without pressing Bb key)
C2 x xxx  oooo
C# x xxo  ooxo
D   x xxo  oooo
Eb  x xoo  oxoo
E    x xoo  oooo

F2  x oxo  oooo
F#  o xoo  oxoo
G   o oxo  oooo
G#  * *xx  xxxo        (t should be closed or part-holed, but t or 1 must be part open.)
A    * *xx  xxoo
Bb  * xxx  xooo
B    / xxx  booo
C3  / xxx  oooo
C#  / xxo  ooxo
D    / xxo  oooo
Eb  / xoo  oxoo
E    / xoo  oooo

F3   / xox  xoxo
F#  / xox  booo
G    / oxx  oooo
G#  / oxxg ooxo
A    / xoo  oxxo
Bb  / xxo  xxox
B    / xox  xoox
C4  / xoxe ooxo  (Notes above about here start getting noisy, unreliable and touchy)
C#  / xox  ooxx
D    / x/xe oxof
Eb   / /x/e oxox
E    / x/xe ooxf

F4  / x/xe ooof
F#  / x//g oxox
G4  / x//e xxox


5-key model fingering variations - Otherwise same as 7-key model
C#2  x xxo  xxxo
Eb2  x xox  xooo
F#2  x ooo  oooo
C#3  / xxo  bo*o
Eb3  / xxog xxxo
E3    / xoo  oooo        (but some of the 5-key units require  / xxo xxoo)
F3    / xo*  xxoo         (/ xox xoxo  also works)
A3   / xxo  oxxo


2-key Baroque Modern

E   x xxx xxxx  b      (bell stopped against leg)

F1 x xxx xxxx
F# x xxx xxxf           (F# key closed, F key open [straight finger])
G   x xxx xxxo
G# x xxx  xx/o
A   x xxx  xxoo
Bb x xxx  xoxx
B   x xxx  oxxo        (b: B "pipe" tonehole lightly covered without pressing Bb key)
C2 x xxx  oooo
C# x xxo  xx/o
D   x xxo  oooo
Eb  x xox  xoxo
E    x xoo  oooo

F2  x oxo  oooo
F#  o xox  xooo
F#  x ooo  oooo       (Alternate: Good sound)
G   o oxo  oooo
G#  o oxx  xxxo
G#  / xxx  xx/o       (Alternate: t [or 1] part open.)
A    * *xx  xxoo
Bb  * xxx  xoxo
B    / xxx  oxoo
C3  / xxx  oooo
C#  / xxo  xooo
D    / xxo  oooo
Eb  / xxo  xxxo
E    / xxo  xxoo
E    / xoo  oooo       (Alternate. Tends to not sound when blown hard.)

F3   / xoo  xxoo       (Some Alternates: / xoo oxoo , / xox xxoo , / xox xoxo)
F#   / xox  xoox
G    / oxx  ooox
G#  / oxx oxxo
A    / xxo  oxoo
Bb  / xxo  xxox
B    / xxo  xoof
C4  / xox  ooxo       (Some alternates: / xox xoxo , / xox oo/o , / xox oooo)
C#  / xox  ooxx
D    / x/x oxof         (Alternative: / x/x oxoo)


"Supercorder" is a trademark of Carmichael Music.

Carmichael Music - Index Page

November 20th, 2003.
Last Updated: June 20th, 2005
Sept 22 2005: tables, photos, wood
Sept 28 2005: added fingerings & caveat table.
November 17 2005: 2-Key Model Info.