Bassoon Lessons in BURR Ridge
The bassoon is the principal bass instrument of the woodwind section of the orchestra known for its warm tone and its distinctive shape consisting of a long tube that looks as if it has been folded in two. It is a double reed instrument, which means it uses a type of reed consisting of two pieces of cane that vibrate against each other. In the bassoon the reed is attached to a curved metal mouthpiece called a “crook” or “bocal” which is joined to the main part of the instrument. The bassoon plays music written in the bass and tenor clefs, and occasionally the treble clef. Its size (about four feet long!) and weight necessitates using a neckstrap in addition to a seatstrap.
It is said that the bassoon derived from the dulcian, which is another double reed woodwind instrument from the 1500’s. It is commonly believed that the inventor of the bassoon was Martin Hotteterre, who created the first bassoon in the 1650s in four sections (wing joint, boot, bass joint, and bass). In the Baroque period the bassoon became popular as an instrument to play the bass line. Composers like Antonio Vivaldi and Mozart wrote concertos for the instrument. In the 1800’s the bassoon was refined for use in concert halls and for greater playability. In the first half of the 19th century, German military bandmaster Carl Almenräder began efforts to improve the instrument. He increased the number of keys and made other innovations such as improving the part of the instrument where the tube bends back on itself, known as the “U-tube.” This made the instrument’s pitch easier to control, and at the same time increased its volume. The fruits of these efforts via musical instrument maker Johann Adam Heckel, who worked with Almenräder, have now come to be known as the German or Heckel bassoon.
The bassoon is used in a variety of music styles including classical, jazz, and modern and popular music. In some pieces with a large orchestra a contrabassoon is used, which plays an octave lower than a bassoon.