Tom de Vries (1989)
I started making recorders after I got my master’s degree in History. Not willing to spend my life behind a desk, I took a recorder making course with Jan Bouterse. It was soon clear that I was a good student and each new recorder I made was better than the previous. I decided that I wanted to devote my life to making recorders. Both a very exciting and terrifying decision. But what’s life without a little risk!
The recorders I make are the recorders I want to play. Being a fairly good player myself, my standards are also high. The dynamic possibilities of my recorders are therefore quite large. I try to remove as much limitations for the musician as possible. The sound needs to be big, but nuanced.
Each recorder has its own character. I try to draw out this character in each individual instrument. I try to avoid making a product where each instrument needs to be the same as the previous. I rather try to look at and listen to the individual recorder. The result is character and individuality, just like every musician has their own character and individuality. For me as a maker, this makes it exciting to make a new instrument each time, because the result is never the same. For the player it’s a possibility to find an instrument ideally suited for them.
A recorder is made of wood. There are a lot of different kinds of wood out there, some more and some less suitable for recorder making. I have about 16 kinds of wood in my workshop. I like to use a wide variety, because each type of wood gives a different character to a recorder. Of course there are woods that are ideally suited for specific types of recorders, for example maple for renaissance recorders and European boxwood for baroque. But to make recorders only in those two woods would be boring, I think.
A softer wood like pear or cherry gives a wonderful mellow sound to Ganassi recorders for example. On the other hand using a tropical hardwood, like grenadilla, for a Ganassi might give a very interesting result and is certainly not something the audience expects. Playing around with different kinds of wood like that, adds to the character and individuality of the recorder.
I have chosen as my stamp and logo two stylized water lily leaves. They appear in the coat of arms and flag of Friesland, the northern-most region of the Netherlands, where I live. This region has its own culture and language, which is more similar to English and Scandinavian languages than to Dutch. The leafs even appear in the Danish coat of arms. Coincidentally my name, De Vries, literally means ‘the Frisian’. So the sign refers to both my name and the place I’m from.
I’ve not added my name or even initials to the logo I stamp in my recorders. I was inspired by the master woodwind makers of the renaissance that often didn’t bother with elaborate names stamped into their instruments, like we know from baroque instrument makers. Some renaissance instruments were not even stamped or very discretely. A beautiful example is a tenor by the Bassano family that has the two little moths of the family stamped on the bottom.
Tom de Vries Recorders
Eysingapad 30, 9064 KK Aldtsjerk, The Netherlands
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