Soprano, Treble, Tenor,
Bass recorder (Bassano)
A = 465, 440, 415 also with interchangeable
Made in two pieces
Sylvestro di Ganassi (1492 - ?) Player and
theoretician published his famous book on playing the recorder “opera
intitulata Fontegara”, including extensive fingering-tables.
Noticeable on these tables of a very wide range is that he mentions that
this is to be achieved by merely (rein überblasen)
It can be stated with certainty that Ganassi did not make any
kind of recorders or flutes. In the tables in his book he mentions three
different makers with the following signs.
This sign stands for Albrecht
Schnitzer (died 1524 or 1525) and son Hans (buried 1565)
Town Piper and Pipe Maker
Woodwindmaker in Munich.respectively.
this sign stands for Hans Rauch
von Schratt(enbach), active about 1535 in Schrattenbach (Allgäu)
The correlation to a workshop
is still uncertain and has not been found.
The Bassano family cannot be
implicated as their instruments are signed with the famous rabbits foot
Evidently Ganassi knew and played on these instruments.
Unfortuantely no treble recorders made by Rauch or Schnitzer have been
Some years back a treble recorder in the collection of the Kunsthistorischen
Museum in Vienna caught my eye. It has a range of two octaves using Ganassi
fingerings (rein überblasende Flöte)
This instrument is signed with the following stamp !! (a rabbits foot).
After the most recent research therefore, these recorders are indeed now
assigned to the Bassano family (Musicians, woodwindmakers, composers in
both London and Venice).
This stamp is not to be found in Ganassis book, unless the B mark stands
However, as we now accredit them to Bassano, we can date them back to
the beginning of the 16th century, assuming these as accredited to Jeronimo
Bassano, who was also active as a recorder maker, (died 1539 or 1545).
However, it does remain to be explained why Ganassi does not mention them.
An ancestor of the Bassano family, Jeronimo is mentioned as a member of
the “Dogen-Kapelle” (Ser Jheronimo trombon, or Jeronimo pifaro),
but not as an instrument maker.
As makers of instruments it is also possible to consider his four sons,
Alvis (died 1554 ), Anthony I (died 1574), John (died 1570), Jasper (died
They lived both in London and Venice, and it is proven that they owned
a workshop near to the centre of London around 1544 -1552.
It is most probable that they also acted as purveyors to the court of
Henry VIII, of which a long list of instruments exist dated to 1547.
Indeed, their instruments seems to have been widely spread throughout
the whole of Europe.
Many woodwind instruments originating from the 16th century can be accredited
to the Bassano family.
An inventory made in Augsburg in 1566 reports
„gross Fuetter darina 27 flötten, gross und klain, so in Engellandt
It is pretty certain that the 45 instruments recorded in an inventory
from 1571 at the Muenchener Court (Shawm, Crumhorn, Cornett, Recorder)
were also made by the Bassano brothers. “ so zu London gemacht seind
worden, von der Bassani bruedern”
The brother Jacomo (died 1559/66) was active as woodwind player to the
Doge, and as a woodwind maker. With his son-in-law Gritti, he made consorts
of Flutes, recorders, shawms, cornetts and crumhorns.
The next generation is therefore Arthur and the already mentioned Gritti.
Arthur (1547-1624) seems to be the person meant in the remaining documents
“ Mr. Barsano, one of his Majesty's musicians who makes fine instruments”
His son Anthony II (1579-1658) is recorded as a maker of musical instruments.
Over the last two decades the “Ganassi” recorder, has been
developed by the recently deceased recorder maker Frederick Morgan. This
style of recorder has been developed which has a loud, almost screaming
sound and is at the same time a rather unflexible sound.
At this point I would like to quote from Michael Praetorius from his Syntagma
Musicum (1619). He mentions small recorders sometimes appear too loud
and screaming in tone, and how this can be avoided.
I am quite sure that poor Mr. Praetorius, would turn in his grave if he
could hear this type of recorder.
I am convinced that the original Soprano and Alto recorders we have, on
which these instruments are based sound much better than the later developed
According to his own records Mr. Morgan based his “Ganassi”
recorder on a Bassano recorder from the Museum in Vienna. He has changed
some of the essential points on copying the original. i.e. the bore in
the head of his instrument is much smaller, and then he has overseen a
narrowing of the bore around hole 6.
The bell at the end of the instrument is also extremely largely widened.
The original is just the opposite of the modern “ Ganassi”
It has a full, round and flexible sound which is sustainable and balanced
timbre over the range of two octaves.
For over two decades I have been making copies of this Bassano recorder,
and have always tried to stick to the original in all its aspects.
Original Soprano and Tenor recorders made by this maker do not exist.
The ones I make in my workshop are based on the measurements of the original.
The bass recorder I make is based on an instrument in the Berliner Instrumenten
Museum and it is obvious that this originated from the Bassano workshop.
G.Klemisch: G.M. Klemisch, „Die Kernspaltflöte
um 1500“ in „Heinrich Isaac und Paul Hofhaimer im
Umfeld...“, Innsbruck 1997)
Graham Lyndon-Jones in FoRHIQ 47, 1987, S.55
William Waterhouse, „The New Langwill Index“ London,
1993, ISBN 0-946113-04-1
Pillip T. Young , 4900 Historical Woodwind Instruments, London