Lately when I've been practising those tricky
high notes on my alto recorder, my long-suffering husband Dan had
been getting a rather pained look on his face. Recorders have a
rather small range in volume - mine is from loud to a little louder.
I decided to find out if there was any way to play more
quietly, and I came across Dr. Carl Dolmetsch's advice on the creation
of a "mute". Here's the URL:
He describes how to cut a small strip of stiff paper the
width of the window of the recorder (or less for partial mute),
fold over about 1/4 of the length of it, and insert it into the
I tried this, and it worked perfectly! A wide strip killed
the sound completely, and a narrower one just cut down the volume.
BUT - If you play the recorder, you will know that the
inside of this instrument is no place for paper; about five minutes
later it was all soggy. The fold wouldn't stay folded, and the paper
I considered using a piece of "bubble pack" plastic
(heaven knows there's enough of it around), but it's quite stiff,
and I have read many warnings about not scratching or dinting the
lip of the window.
Then, while cleaning out my computer desk, I found the
perfect material. I was about to throw away some old 5 1/4 floppy
diskettes when I noticed the smooth soft plastic material. Each
is one piece of plastic folded over and crimped at the factory to
make the disk casing.
I cut several wedge-shaped strips of different widths from
a couple of diskettes, starting at the folded-over edge. I pulled
off the soft inner padding and threw away the inner disk. I cut
one of the two sides of each one a little shorter than the width
of the inside of the barrel of the recorder.
Now when I put one of these into the window, it stays nicely
in place. The plastic is too soft to damage the recorder, the fold
stays in, and it won't get soggy. Best of all,
since the material was going to be thrown out anyway, it cost nothing.
If you think that there aren't hundreds of thousands of
these old disks in people's closets, basements and attics, you are
definitely overestimating the organizational skills of the typical
middle-aged computer hobbyist.