What is Voicing?

Voicing is the process of manipulating those aspects of an instrument which influence its tone and response in order to adjust them to optimum parameters. These parts customarily include the bottom of the windway (the “plug” surface and height), the top of the windway (the “roof”), the chamfers or bevels at the end of each of these surfaces, and, in rare cases, the edge and the broach under it, and the distance from the top of the window. These parts are collectively called the “voicing,” which can apply to the physical parts, the way they work on an instrument, or (as a verb) to the act or of working on them.

Sometimes bore problems can influence the voicing, requiring removal or insertion of material at various points in the bore, especially if the instrument has warped or shrunk. This work is usually included in the voicing charge if it is mandated by burbles or other stability problems. Bore work required by tuning problems is usually included in tuning charges.

Occasionally it is necessary to tune an instrument as part of voicing, as out-of-tune harmonics can hamper response or influence tone. Likewise, it may be necessary to regulate or repad keywork to get an instrument to speak properly, or fix other leaks such as joints. These other jobs are generally billed separately from voicing. Very rarely the cause of difficult high notes (and sometimes low notes) is a gouged out thumb hole from improper thumb technique. A thumb bushing is necessary to fix this problem.

Some plastic recorders can be voiced, and benefit from it. Once done, plastic instruments are usually stable for life.