- Piccolo: Interview and demonstration with Nadine Asin
- Flute: Interview and demonstration with principal Jeffrey Khaner
- E-Flat Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with Jessica Phillips Rieske
- Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with principal Jon Manasse
- Bass Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with James Ognibene
- Oboe: Interview and demonstration with principal John Ferrillo
- Bassoon: Interview and demonstration with principal Nancy Goeres
- English Horn: Interview and demonstration with Pedro Diaz
Bassoon: Interview and demonstration with principal Nancy Goeres
Want to join the conversation?
- Why is it when you play just the reed it sounds like a dying goose, but it makes a musical sound when on the instrument. What makes the difference?(8 votes)
- The reed starts the vibration of the air, then it gets carried throughout the instrument, and the walls of the bassoon allow for the air to vibrate in different ways and with different resonances, which gives it the bassoon sound.(3 votes)
- At1:30, Ms. Goeres says the bassoon is 9 feet(!) long. I wonder whether this means that bassoonists must blow really, really hard to get air to travel all that way. If so, their lung capacity must be phenomenal (and in the videos, she sure doesn't look like she's huffing and puffing like I'd imagine one would). Can someone compare it to say, a clarinet or oboe? Or better, a flute (as I played that for a little while)? [and yes, I had great difficulty with good breathing there, which is why I'm so curious.]
Many thanks.(2 votes)
- Consider that the instrument is already full of air and the player only needs to move additional air through it. The bore of the bassoon is pretty narrow from what I remember, and not much air is expelled through those double reeds. It is probably a lot less than you think.(10 votes)
- Okay, I have a thousand questions: 1. What type of wood is a bassoon made out of? 2. How many bassoons are in an orchestra? 3. At2:10I saw two, but one was black and I think the other was brown. Is the wood painted or are the different colours of the wood natural?(4 votes)
- Bassoons are usually made of four different types of wood I believe. Mountain maple (the most popular for professional instruments, but one of the most expensive woods), black maple (often preferred by orchestra players), red maple (preferred among professional performers often), and sugar maple (which is often popular in schools). The number of bassoons varies slightly depending on the orchestra, however there are generally two to four. The different colors are due to the wood stain I believe.(6 votes)
- At0:57why can you only use double reed to blow into the bassoon, why can't you use any other material like a metal bite or something like the stick on the mouthpiece of the clarinet?(3 votes)
- From what I understand, using any other material besides a double reed would alter the sound of the bassoon, and make it sound like a completely different instrument. Just blowing into a double reed makes a thin, nasally sound, but when that sound is channeled into the bassoon, it transforms it into something musical and expressive.(3 votes)
- What is the history of the bassoon? Where did it originate?(3 votes)
- At about0:50she says that the bassoon is the lowest instrument in the woodwind family. But is not the Contra-bassoon and the Contra-saxophone the two lowest woodwinds? Also does she say this and exclude those two maybe because they are not a normal symphonic/orchestral instrument?(2 votes)
- Yeah, I think she's speaking in terms of what's normal for an ensemble. Typically the orchestral woodwind family always includes flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. Wind ensembles add saxophone to that.
Contrabassoon is actually relatively common compared to most non-standard instruments, but it's still excluded from a lot of pieces. Bass sax shows up in a few band works (particularly Grainger, I think), but really it's rarely ever used and probably never shows up in an orchestra. Contrabass sax is even weirder -- probably only shows up in large saxophone ensembles. Technically there's also a subcontrabass sax, which is just ridiculous.
Contrabass clarinet is another relatively common instrument with a pretty low range, but I'm not exactly sure how its range compares to the bassoon's. They can definitely both shake the earth if necessary.(2 votes)
- Where do all the other notes come from??(3 votes)
- which clef does the bassoon play in? Also the Oboe?(1 vote)
- Almost all bassoons play in the bass clef (although they occasionally to use the tenor and alto clefs), as do contrabassoons. Oboes use the treble clef.(3 votes)
- do you blow into the bassoon or buzz your lips like the trumpet(2 votes)
- The bassoon is a double-reed instrument, like oboe and English horn, which means that to produce a sound you blow air through a reed that is made of two pieces of cane. The opening is pretty small. Your airstream causes the reed to vibrate, which produces a sound. This is the same principle that creates sound for a brass instrument like a trumpet, except that with brass the vibration is caused by buzzing.(1 vote)
- At2:56, Does the Bassoon have more than one opening, or do the notes come out of more than one opening of the instrument?(1 vote)
- There are many holes in a bassoon. When you press the keys or cover the holes, this closes the holes and therefore one of the "openings" where wind/air/"notes" comes out of. Closing them in different combinations creates different notes!(2 votes)
(intense dramatic orchestral music) - This is the bassoon. It's the largest member of the woodwind family, therefore it plays the lowest notes. It's also very special because one uses a double reed to play it, and this is the reed. It's two pieces of bamboo cane tied together with wire and thread. And when you blow into the reed, the two pieces of cane vibrate against each other and that's what makes the sound. (reed buzzing) Doesn't sound like a bassoon at all, but when I put it on the end of the bocal here those silly vibrations have a chance to travel throughout the entire instrument and that's what makes the characteristic bassoon sound. Now, I mentioned this is a large instrument, but the tube of the instrument is even longer. It's nine feet long. So, underneath here, the tube turns. And it's very small on the top and since it is a conical bore it gets bigger, largest at the top. There are lots of keys, of course, and the bassoon is unique from the other woodwind instruments, the clarinet, the oboe and the flute, because we have a lot of keys that are depressed by using our thumb. (mellow orchestral music) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, on the left thumb, and one, two, three, four, five, on the right. When I push this key, which is all the way here, all the way here, then it closes the final hole for the intsrument, and that's why it's the lowest note. (blows very low note) That's the lowest note on the bassoon, B flat. It is the highest key, but, when this key is closed, that means the note comes from the entire tube being closed. Actually, that's the only note that comes out the top of the bassoon. So, if I play a low B flat, and someone puts their hand over the top, the note won't come out. That's the only note that won't come out. (soft, gentle orchestral music) The bassoon in the high register has a little bit brighter, I hate to use this word 'cause it's a little bit negative, but a little bit more shrill and bright. And then for the low register it's much more deeper and mellower sound, which is of course, what I love about the bassoon. It has a very mellow sound, and it blends beautifully in the orchestra, but it also comes out very prominently in solos in a very beautiful way, I feel. (light peaceful orchestral music) The bassoon has many roles in the orchestra, and, a composer like Stravinsky wrote the wonderful Rite of Spring starting with a bassoon solo, with very high notes, and at the time it was written, it was rather scandalous, well, in many ways, but for bassoon players, especially, because of the extreme high register, and, I think his idea was something primal, he wanted screaming in a way, and now, as bassoon players, we practice very hard on those high notes, so that they can sound lovely, and we don't maybe play it as shrilly as it was done when it was written, but Stravinsky then again, when he wrote the Berceuse of The Firebird ballet, he used the bassoon for the lullaby. So, in a very, very soft, beautiful middle range of the instrument. (subdued orchestral music) I always loved playing the Berceuse from The Firebird, because it really gives me a chance to show emotion and beauty in my playing, and, so, that's very special for me. It was one of the first recordings that I had as a child. My aunt Linda gave me an anthology of recordings, and the Berceuse from The Firebird was on there, and I just thought, oh, that is so beautiful, so beautiful, I wanna play the bassoon, and, at age seven, I started playing the piano. And, I loved to play the piano, but I didn't love to practice the piano, and I didn't have, maybe a super aptitude for it, but, I used to practice under pressure from my lesson coming up every week. So, when it was time, at the end of fifth grade, to choose a band instrument, and I say band, because we didn't have a string program in Lodi, where I'm from. So, it was time to choose a band instrument, and my older sister played the clarinet, and even in this small town, they probably had 20 clarinetists in the band, and every week they had to have challenges for where they would sit, and they would fight about who got the first chair. She said, Nancy, play the bassoon, because we don't have any. So, I thought well, that's the instrument that I've heard, and I loved, so this is the perfect choice for me, and I did, I loved it right away. My family did not love it right away. I practiced, and practiced, and practiced, and practiced, and sounded like, to them, well, they had two words for it, bedpost and sick cow, or I guess they had another word, foghorn. (Interviewer laughs) So, when I started playing the bassoon, immediately something just worked, all the parts just came together, and then I got, I was serious, so I started going to, I went to Madison, which was fairly close to my home town, and I went there to the University of Wisconsin for lessons. In seventh grade, eighth grade, age 13, and 14, I was practicing, and I loved it, and I also loved playing in the band, but then when I started playing in the youth symphony, which happened, also very good, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony, which happened quite early on, then learning the symphonic music to me, then, my whole world was opened, and, being a bassoon player, it's certainly very important in order to play Brahms, Shostakovich, Mahler, Bruckner, all these wonderful symphonic pieces, they were not solo pieces written for the bassoon, by those composers. So, it's wonderful to be part of a large group and play in an orchestra, and have all that sound surrounding you. Bassoons always sit right in the middle of the orchestra, and it's been wonderful to play in an orchestra.