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).
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
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)
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.
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.
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