The garklein is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the recorder family. It was first mentioned in a publication by composer Michael Praetorius circa 1607, but its accompanying illustration shows only two fingerholes and one thumbhole. The name can roughly be translated as 'very very small recorder'; 'flötlein' being a diminuitive German form of 'flöte' (flute), 'klein' meaning 'small' and 'gar' as an intensifier. From this publication historians suppose that the garklein was not intended as a serious instrument, and was revived in the 20th century to be the piccolo of the recorder family, playing an octave above the descant recorder.
At barely six inches long, its usable range lies between C'' (two octaves above middle C) and A'''' (the fourth A from middle C)1. Its diminuitive size may suggest it to be an ideal instrument to present to a young child who expresses an interest in learning the recorder; however, if one values one's eardrums, this course of action is not advisable.
Due to their excessively shrill tone, garkleins are seldom used, and well-made ones are quite rare. Some have fewer fingerholes than is standard, and many use a pattern of interleaved fingerholes to accommodate the fingers of the average player. As a result of the instrument's seven holes being spread over just three inches, standard note fingerings are not always successful, and the enterprising player will need to learn several alternate fingerings.
Music for the garklein is written in the treble clef, sounding two octaves higher than written.
1 An ear-piercing F'''' is theoretically possible. However, the merest suggestion of such a note manages to clear entire rooms with speed incredible.