Wooden Double Pipe
Wooden Double Recorder

Listen to a sample.

This kind of double pipe is based on a number of prototype instruments. The only medieval double pipe of the flue kind has been found in Oxford, England, and while it is in unplayable condition, enough remains to have a good idea of what it was like.* Other similar instruments exist in the form of folk pipes used in the South of Italy, and there are double flue-type pipes used in the Balkans, from Slovenia to Greece. All of these have variable fingerholes. The launeddas, the national instrument of Sardinia, are reedpipes, but have the same type of fingering pattern, as do the chanters of the South Italian zampogna and chiaramella bagpipes. This broad type of double pipes with both pipes fingered, and therefore polyphonic music playable on them (within limits) existed from truly ancient times. Some of the earliest instruments discovered in Mesopotamia and Egypt are of this type, as are the Greek aulos. All known ancient double pipes are reedpipes, but in mediaeval times flue pipes also were made with this type of fingering, as is clear from contemporary illustrations as well as the only surviving instrument.

This double pipe has a range of a complete octave, fully chromatic on the left-hand pipe, playing F-f. The fingering is rather unusual, it will take a bit of time to get used to this. The right-hand pipe has the range of a sixth, playing Bb'-G. The fingering of this one is not dissimilar to that of a Renaissance recorder.

As no known music exists for these type of pipes, you have to arrange polyphonic music of the period to suit the capabilities of this instrument. It is possible to play launeddas and zampogna music on them to a certain extent, even though the effect is quite different. There also exists a completely new repertoire for the revival Cornish double bagpipe, which is also playable on these pipes. They really come into their own when used for playing two-part medieval and early renaissance consort music. Best results are obtained by taking music with a melody line within one octave, and arrangeing from the lower parts of the original a second line to fit the limits of the right pipe.

A lot of 13th century choral music and 16th century consort music is playeble without alteration.

Video samples of the pipes being played. (Opens in a new browser window)

Click the image below to find a selection of sheet music for pieces from various periods arranged for the double recorder in PDF format.
Sheet Music Sample

The pipes are made from rata1 or almond wood.

Bob Marvin: A double recorder
FOMRHI quaterly 31 (1983) comm. 453

Price: $NZ 1000+ shipping

Convert Currency


1 Rata (Metrosideros Robusta) is a native New Zealand tree. According to some handbooks the second heaviest timber in the world. While difficult to dry, once dry it is very stable. The wood is very dense and smooth, but not particularly showy

All sound samples played by the maker, unless otherwise specified

Visit the Taborers' Society at: http://www.pipeandtabor.org/