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An Introduction to the Bassoon Instrument - ipassio

29 Sep 2021


3 min read


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Bassoon Instrument

What is the Bassoon Instrument?

The Bassoon is an underrated Woodwind musical instrument, most popular in Europe, played by many musicians like Gustavo Nunez. A Basson is a double-reed Woodwind instrument having a long U-shaped conical tube.

This tube is connected to the mouthpiece by a thin metal tube and has a usual range of two octaves lower than that of the oboe. This means that sound is produced by blowing into a reed or over a hole.

Usually, when people see a Bassoon, its structure makes non-music folks assume that it’s some kind of a detailed flute.

Bassoon and its part in the Reed family of instruments

The woodwind family includes the flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, and bassoon. The bassoon is the lowest of the woodwind instruments.

The Oboe and Bassoon use a double reed to produce their sound. This means that the player blows through two pieces of cane specially designed to play together. 

The Bassoon is a very complicated instrument that has many pieces and buttons that all work together. It is made of maple wood and is so large it comes apart into seven pieces. 

Is it difficult to learn the Bassoon?

The player uses all 10 fingers to press buttons, and some fingers even press multiple buttons at once. See the diagram for the names of each part!

The Bassoon is primarily an orchestra instrument. Sometimes called the chameleon of the orchestra, it plays with many different instruments to change the character, or timbre, of a particular musical moment.

It also has a large range, meaning it can play both very low and very high.

The bassoon also plays in small ensembles, such as the woodwind quintet, and as a solo instrument.

Even though it was originally made to play classical music, it now plays a wide range of music, including jazz, waltzes, tangos, and so much more!

Bassoon, French Basson, German Fagott, the principal bass instrument of the orchestral woodwind family.

It is exceptionally difficult to play because the traditional placing of the finger holes is scientifically irrational, yet this is essential to the production of tone quality.

What does the Bassoon Consist of?

The bassoon’s reed is made by bending double a shaped strip of cane.

Its narrow conical bore leads from the curved metal crook, onto which the double reed is placed, downward through the wing, or tenor, joint (on which are the left-hand finger holes) to the butt joint (on which are the right-hand holes).

The bore then doubles back, ascending through the butt to the long joint and bell, where the holes are controlled by key work for the left thumb.

In performance, the bassoon is held aslant on a sling. 

The Origin Story of the Bassoon

One that has been one of the primary orchestral colors since the late Baroque era.

Its classical compass is three octaves upward from the B♭ below the bass staff, the most-used melodic range coinciding with that of the tenor voice. Since the mid-19th century, the range has been extended up to treble E.

The bassoon is a 17th-century development of the earlier sordone, fagotto, or dulzian, known in England as the curtal. 

It was first mentioned about 1540 in Italy as an instrument with both ascending and descending bores contained in a single piece of maple or pearwood. 

The Evolution of the Instrument over the years

Many examples of these early instruments survive in European museums. The present construction in four separate joints is thought to have been developed in France by 1636. 

The development of the bassoon, which is the bass voice of the woodwinds, is believed to have closely followed the reconstitution of the shawm as an oboe.

During the 18th century, the bassoon’s value to the ensemble was first recognized, and, to the present day, Western orchestras have typically employed two bassoons. 

It also became valued as a solo instrument, particularly for concerti.

Well into the late 18th century, no mechanism was used beyond the four keys, as most semitones outside the natural scale of C were obtained by cross-fingerings opening the holes nonconsecutively. 

Keys were added from about 1780 to approximately 1840, when the Paris models of Jean-Nicholas Savary, with additional improvements in bore and mechanism, became the 20-keyed standard.

That version, made by the firm of Buffet-Crampon, continues to be used in France, Italy, and Spain and by some British players.

Facts about the Bassoon that you might not have known

There are many important and/or unusual facts concerning the Bassoon.

The instrument is so large and heavy because of its making, that it requires some way of holding it beyond both hands of the musician. 

When used in a marching band, this support is a strap over the shoulder of the musician. When used while seated, a spike is sometimes used to support the weight of the instrument.

An early name for the Bassoon in Italian, the Fagotto, was given due to the instrument's resemblance to a fasces, the bundle of sticks that represented the power of the ancient Roman state.

The reeds used to play the Bassoon are more than 2 inches long and an inch wide, making them bigger than the reeds of other instruments.

Unlike many other instruments, which may have only a few valves or pistons, the bassoon requires the use of every finger, including thumbs, to be played properly.

While the earliest designs for the Bassoon appeared during the Renaissance as an outgrowth of the dulcian, the most famous pieces for the bassoon begin slightly later. 

Also, it's important to note that these pieces are those that exemplify the abilities of the Bassoon. 

Obviously, the instrument was a crucial part of many orchestras and thus played a smaller role in other works.

So go on, try it out on our platform and we promise that your learning will be smooth, exclusive, and full of remarkable success.

That was the detailed study of the musical instrument Bassoon, for you. 

If you wish to learn Bassoon, explore ipassio’s online Bassoon lessons that are available and cover different genres.

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