Voicing Considerations—Understanding what Voicing can Mean to Your Playing…

Do you really know what kind of instrument you have?

You may have bought an instrument which has a tone you like. But, unless that instrument was in voice when you bought it (and many are not), you may not know what you actually have until it has been properly voiced. When you can no longer avoid having your instrument voiced, it may come back quite different from what you liked before. The reason is simple: However much you liked the way it played, if it played that way because of voicing irregularities, there is no way to restore it to that condition. The irregularities are impossible to measure or replicate. By comparison, any competent voicer can, presumably, return an instrument which was originally in voice to optimum voice, and it should sound and respond much like it did before.

Likewise, many times I’m told that someone would like me to fix a specific problem without changing anything else. This is usually impossible. It does help me to know what you like so I can work towards that as a goal, but very often correcting one aspect of a voicing problem entails changes to the entire instrument. Usually, the final result is an all-around better instrument, but again, if what you like is the result of an out-of-voice instrument, voicing it will probably change those characteristics at least somewhat.

Where do I draw the line?

I have occasionally been told by an owner that they don’t need their instrument to do all the things I test them with, and try to make them do. While this is true in many cases, I insist on making each instrument perform as well as I can.

In the first place, any instrument is entitled to be as good as it can be, so that any player who picks it up can play it to his or her limit. Just because a player is not playing Vivaldi and Telemann concerti and sonatas does not mean they don’t benefit from an instrument which can. Those of us making music have enough to worry about without having to give precious attention to overcoming technical limitations of the instrument, whether in response or adjusting tuning as we play. Any attention we have to give to these areas distracts us from our real goal of making music. And, a person who is be playing at a given level today may well progress tomorrow. Having an instrument which is ahead of them capability wise only helps. It can actually assist them to progress, and it can make improving much easier. So, a player should never have to settle for less than they deserve or can get. Not all of us drive our cars to the limits; but, we benefit from the many ways those increased limits help make our daily driving easier and safer. Recorders are similar.