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Recorders take both hands to play them. The only problem is that two handed players can't normally play anything else at the same time. Well, you could play the foot bells, but I did say normally.
SO devising the three holed pipe which can be played in one hand, like this...
|...means that the other hand is free to play the tabor, which is simply the word meaning drum. Like this:||
The trick is to blow the pipe harder or softer to make higher or lower notes.
This is called "overblowing." Most 3 holed pipes will produce about 12 or so useful notes this way. You can experiment by sticking sticky tape over some of the holes of a PLASTIC recorder to try the effect.
DO NOT TRY THIS WITH WOODEN RECORDERS!! IT SPOILS THE RECORDER, AND SO CAN LEAD TO DAMAGE TO THE PERSON DOING THE EXPERIMENT WHEN THE RECORDER'S OWNER FINDS OUT!
The recorder experiment can be useful, but it doesn't work as well as the real thing, partly because of the shape of the hole down the middle. It makes a big difference to wind instruments whether the hole down the middle gets narrower, or wider, or stays the same as it goes through the instrument. Most modern recorders get narrower as they go down. This is the way it has been since about the later 1600's. Most tabor pipes have a cylindrical or nearly cylindrical bore - it doesn't get wider or narrower, or only a tiny bit.
|The tabor pipe in the photos on this page is copied from the shape of one of the three found on board the "Mary Rose." I think I'm right in saying that these are the oldest tabor pipes in existence. If you know of an older one, do tell me! Tabor pipes seem to have been in Britain since about 1200 or so.|
|| On the left is one of the earliest carvings of a pipe and tabor player in the country -
click on it to see it bigger, and the musician's neighbour.
On the right is another carving from a church in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire. At present I can't make up my mind whether it's all medieval or at least partly a Victorian repair job. I hope to find out...
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