BASSOON: double reed instrument with cylindrical
bore. It is made of a wooden tube doubling back on itself, hence
the name fagott--a bundle of sticks.
The bassoon sounds where written.
The contrabassoon sounds an octave lower than the
TYPES OF BASSOONS:
German (Heckel) System--the American choice.
French System--played primarily in France.
(These are fingering systems which differ greatly both mechanically and
in tone quality produced. Obviously, the Heckel system is viewed
as superior by a majority of American players.)
DESIRABLE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: The bassoon is not
a beginning instrument. Before beginning on the bassoon, the
student should have developed adequate facility on some other woodwind
instrument, preferably the clarinet or saxophone. Physical size
is of primary importance due to the long reaches and stretches
demanded of the fingers. A natural or greater than natural
overbite is an advantage. An underbite is a disadvantage.
PARTS OF THE BASSOON & ASSEMBLY: (1) Place
the boot joint in the left hand. (2) Insert the tenor
joint with the right hand. (Be careful with the bridge
key.) (3) Insert the long joint with the left hand.
(4) Attach the bell with the right hand. (Be careful with
the bridge key.) (5) Attach the hand rest, adjusted to
the proper height. (6) Attach the bocal (held correctly
above the cork). (7) Attach the double reed.
(8) Finally, attach the neck strap or seat strap.
HOLDING POSITION: (1) The weight of the bassoon
is supported by either the neck strap or seat strap, and balanced on
the base of the index finger of the left hand, and with the right hand
on the hand rest. (2) The boot joint rests against the right hip
with the instrument held diagonally across the body. (3) The
bell is held forward so that the angle of the bocal permits the reed
to enter the mouth at a slight angle.
EMBOUCHURE: (1) Keep the lips relaxed.
Drop the jaw so that the teeth are about a half-inch apart. (2)
Pull the lower jaw back to increase the natural overbite--keep it back
while playing. (3) Push the corners of the mouth toward the
center, as in whistling, forming wrinkles in the lips. (4)
Maintaining the contracted position of the lips, roll them over the
teeth so that virtually all of the lip is over the teeth. The
exact amount of lip depends on its thickness. Thin lips will
need all the lip over the teeth; thick lips may leave a line of the
red of the lip in front of the teeth. (5) Pull the chin muscles down
and avoid bunching under the reed. (6) Put the reed between the
lips to the point where the mouth is almost touching the first wire.
TUNING WHILE PLAYING: (1) Contracting the
embouchure around the reed to increase pressure will sharpen the
pitch. (2) Relaxing the embouchure around the reed will flatten
the pitch. (See text re tuning related to bocal length and reed
REED CHARACTERISTICS: (1) A soft reed plays
flat. (2) A hard reed plays sharp. (3) A wide reed tip
plays flat. (4) A narrow reed tip plays sharp.
THE FOLLOWING NOTES TEND TO BE SHARP:
THE FOLLOWING NOTES TEND TO BE FLAT:
BRANDS: Good student brands: Fox, Renard,
Schreiber, Armstrong, Lorée, Selmer. Professional brands:
Heckel, Puchner, Fox, Schreiber, Huller, Polisi.
The characteristic shape of the bassoon was
invented in 1540 by Alfranio of Ferrara.