The Pörschmann Recorder in Musikhistorisk Museum, Copenhagen

Report on a Technical Examination

This article is published in: Mette Müller and Lisbet Torp (ed.): Musikkens tjenere. Instrument, forsker, musiker. Jubilæumsskrift for Musikhistorisk Museum og Carl Claudius’ Samling 1898-1998. Copenhagen 1998.

English summary:

The only preserved recorder built by the Leipzig instrument builder Johann Pörschmann (ab. 1680-1757), is found at Musikhistorisk Museum in Copenhagen, Inv. no. CL 417.

The article relates an examination of the recorder including measuring of the internal and external dimensions, a measurement of the pitch of the recorder, and a CT-scanning. By way of introduction, some of the general problems are treated, which arise when measuring woodwind instruments.

The report includes a description of the measuring equipment being used, an account of the results and their evaluation in relation to similar examinations. A special description is given of a tool for measuring the internal bore and of a test setup for blowing the recorder with dry air. The bore appeared to have features unknown in other baroque recorders: a tapered narrowing course in the head of the recorder, combined with an outgoing step at the transition from the head to the middle piece.

The CT-scanning was employed in order to get a survey of the course of the windway and to establish the extent of the undercutting of the finger holes. During the examination, som metal lumps were found in the block which may have been caused by an unsuccesful restoration of the recorder; it was ascertained that the block no longer fits into the recorder and that it is in a very bad condition.

The blowing of the recorder showed a pitch of a’=415 and an unequal temperature with small fifths. The octaves are generally too great, and the deep f’ is a problem note which is unstable at a normal blowing pressure. Due to the bad condition of the block it was not possible to get an impression of the sound and of the recorder’s other musical qualities.

A full-scale technical drawing of the instrument is available.