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The bassoon


The bassoon is a musical instrument of the woodwind family, which appears at the end of the XVIth century in Italy under the name fagotto.

Bass and tenor of the oboe family with its extended over three octaves , it consists of a long tube of conical bore precious wood (maple, rosewood ...) about 2m50 folded in on itself, that the performer stands on the right side, the cap (6), facing up. The small branch (3) and the large branch (5) are interconnected by a yoke (4) U-shaped tight. The double reed (1) is attached to the end of a short metal pipe also called conical bowl (2).

History bassoon

The origins of the bassoon are very old. The double-reed instruments have been used mainly in the Egyptian civilization, the Middle East and Asia. But it was not until the Middle Ages to find traces of the ancestors of the bassoon, called the douçaine.

The bassoon 1550-1700

Bassoons 1600

Until 1650, a large number of different instruments coexist, without possessing specific names nor belong to well-defined categories. However, the first reference to the bassoon began in 1602 in Italy, where it is then called fagotto.

It is likely that the bundle name comes from the fact that "two pieces of wood are bound together and fagotts" (Marin Mersenne). The word bassoon, it comes from "low" the Encyclopedia of Diderot mentions the word "bassoon, oboe.

At that time, there are several sizes of instruments.Instruments worst could be over three meters long. They are hard and difficult to manipulate and play.The factors have then the idea of connecting two contiguous branches in parallel using a pipe to reduce the length of the instrument.

The bores are very rudimentary and hole locations are defined without any precise calculations. The keywork system does not yet exist: the holes are strongly rejected and do not fall under the fingers. The various transformations of the bassoon will be done in several stages.

The bassoon 1700-1785

It was during the XVIIIth century that the role of the bassoon soloist is important. Many sonatas and concertos are written at this time. Antonio Vivaldi, for example, devotes nearly forty concertos. During this period, the bassoon changed little. The keywork is not yet invented but is beginning to reflect on its evolution and to impose the lower right hand and left hand on top, then left the choice of the musician.

In the late XVIIIth century Prudent Thieriot is famous in France in the bill bassoons. It makes a lot of research to improve the instrument to give more power and improve its shortcomings. Prudent is the pivotal period between baroque and classical and the first major changes to the instrument.

The bassoon in the XIXth century (from 1785)

Basson 1870

The nineteenth century is the heyday of the bill for wind instruments.

Very many factors carry out modifications to the instrument. However, the evolution of the instrument is hampered by the musicians themselves. Indeed, there is some natural disadvantages gravity changes too radical. The musicians know how much time and work requires a change of fingering.

It was at this period that the differentiation between the two systems.

Bassoon today

Fagott modern

Today, there are two types of bassoons: bassoon French and German bassoon (also known bassoon).

Major differences between the two instruments:

  • the wood used: the French bassoon is Brazilian rosewood, the German bassoon System (Heckel) in varnished maple,
  • The bore is slightly larger and more regular in the German bassoon,
  • the keywork and the holes are not designed the same way, many different fingerings,
  • the reed is gougée, cut and tapered differently.

Two brands coexist for bassoon French: Buffet-Crampon and Selmer .

Heckel, Püchner Moosmann, Schreiber Adler Mönnig, Sonora, Hüller, Amati, Fox and Yamaha are among the leading manufacturers of fagotts.

French luthier Yannick Ducasse created in 2008 an instrument for young children who can now start the bassoon at the age of five years and the system of their choice.

Gradually, and especially in recent years, the German system was installed in the world, even in France and some Latin countries, where the French bassoon was a strong presence.

The German bassoon seems more reliable and easier to play bass. Furthermore, with the internationalization of world music and then looking for a uniform orchestral sound, some conductors prefer the German bassoon, because the tone of the latter is more rounded and therefore more substance to the mass orchestra. Now, the conflict between the two systems seems to have calmed, and the two instruments coexist, when the German bassoon is not a monopoly. France is one of the few countries to offer the specialization on the two instruments. French bassoon was an illustrious representative in the person of Maurice Allard. It should be noted that the French bassoon is very popular for concertos although the German system Heckel bassoon is preferred for its ease of transmission. That means it is easier to play hard and master the sound.

About the current practice of the bassoon, we must speak of a return to the baroque bassoon, which is still taught and emphasized.

(Source: - copyright authors - under Article GFDL )

Creation date : 11/02/2009 11:39
Category : Files - Instruments-Woods
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Baroque period

The baroque period covers a large period in the history of music. It extends from the early XVIIth century at about the middle of the XVIIIth century, more or less uniform across the countries considered. As a necessarily schematic, aesthetics and inspiration baroque follow those of the Renaissance and above those of classicism.


Buffet-Crampon is a French company founded in 1825, specializes in the manufacture of wind instruments (clarinets, saxophones, oboes and bassoons), located in Mantes-la-Ville (Yvelines). In association with the virtuoso clarinetist Hyacinthe Klosé, Buffet Crampon is the origin of the adaptation system to the clarinet keys and mobile rings designed by Theobald Boehm for the flute. This system, patented in 1843, is the source of the clarinet "Boehm system" modern, who won in France and in most countries, with the notable exception of Germany and Austria, faithful to the "Oehler system. Buffet Crampon has developed a global leadership from the clarinet, particularly known for professional quality instruments. In 2006, the company bought the company Courtois, French manufacture of brass (trumpets, tubas) located in Amboise, and the company Besson (euphonium, horns).


Classical period

The Music "Classic" includes music written by agreement between the death of Johann Sebastian Bach is 1750 and the beginning of the Romantic period or the 1820s. By extension, called  "classical music" all european art music, music from the Renaissance to contemporary music. It is therefore necessary to separate the classical music, composers whose headlights are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Christoph Willibald Gluck, and classical music opposed to popular music in the West or elsewhere (referred to "Indian classical music," for example).

The octave in music

The etymology of the word octave just music: it takes eight grades to have a frequency twice as high.
Indeed, the one to play in tune, it must produce a frequency of 440 Hz to play the octave above, it is necessary to produce a frequency of 880 Hz, ie, exactly twice.
In music, an octave is the interval between two sounds whose fundamental frequency of one is twice the frequency of the other. Divided into several sub-intervals, it allows to define the ranges.

Henri Selmer

Selmer is the leading French manufacturer of wind instruments (clarinets, saxophones, brass) situated in Mantes-la-Ville (Yvelines).
Founded in 1885 by Henri Selmer, the company was established in Mantes-la-Ville in 1919. It produces about 22,000 instruments a year, 80% of saxophones, and over 100,000 mouthpieces saxophone and clarinet.
Henri Selmer clarinet player who was a famous, first made of reeds in his studio located in Montmartre, then manufactured clarinets that have sold in the United States, where his brother Alexander, also a clarinetist, has made known.
In 1921, he began the manufacture of saxophones and resumed in 1929 the company of Adolphe Sax. Selmer has weathered the Asian competition by specializing in high end.
The model Mark VI altos and tenors especially products in the fifties and early sixties, is recognized by many musicians as the best saxophone ever produced.



In western music, the word means a tone scale music belonging to the tonal system.

  • Caught in a broad sense, the word "tone" can refer to the tonal system as a whole.
  • The word can also take the direction of height, its fundamental to some instruments.
  • The word tone can be used as a synonym for tone.

A tone is defined as the set of intervals, melodic and harmonic as well, between hierarchical levels of a given scale compared to its fundamental level, called tonic. A tone is characterized by both the tonic and its mode.
Each key is constructed from the diatonic scale.

The tone is also a means to locate a musical instrument in relation to C reference.
The flute, violin or piano are in C, that is to say that when the C is played, it really means to do. The B-flat trumpet sounded really flat so when playing a do. The horn (in F) is heard when playing an F do.

The tone is very important because it will allow transposition and transcription of partitions in C in tones of instruments with different pitches.

Some instruments and their tone:

  • Ut: Piano, strings, flutes and piccolo, oboe, bassoon, C trumpet, trombone, tuba, bass tuba.
  • D flat: the old piccolos.
  • Re: Trumpet in D.
  • Eb: alto saxophone and baritone, small bugle, horn in E flat, alto (small tuba), clarinet, bass tuba.
  • F: Cor.
  • Sol: Trumpet in G.
  • The: Oboe d'amore, the trumpet.
  • Bb: soprano saxophone, tenor tuba (euphonium and baritone), B-flat trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, bass tuba (bombardon).