Sean the Bassoonist


bas-soon (bä-sõõn’); noun Music: A low-pitched instrument with a double reed, having a long wooden body attached to a U-shaped lateral tube that leads to the mouthpiece. The range of this instrument is typically two octaves lower of that of the oboe.

For a less technical definition,

bas-soon (bä-sõõn’); A large piece of wood that looks like a bed post that makes sounds when you blow into it.

In my opinion, the bassoon is one of the most unique and expressive instruments of an orchestra. As a member of the woodwind family it is classified as a double-reed instrument, along with an oboe, english horn and contrabassoon.  A bassoon’s register is relatively low compared to that of the other woodwinds and its range is approximately three and a half octaves, from three B-flats below middle C to two Es above.

A bassoon stands over 4 feet, but would extend over eight feet if were all stretched out. By blowing into the reed, sound vibrations are created which then travels through the bocal, down the right wing, through the U-shaped tube referred to as “the boot”, back up the left wing and finally out through the bell.

The bassoon reed is actually a double reed, Notice that there is one blade on top, and one blade on the bottom, which are bonded together by the thread and wire. This is in contrast to the clarinet or the saxophone who’s reed is comprised of only a single blade. Unfortunately, most bassoonists are forced to make their own reeds.  For me, this is a horribly frustrating and time consuming experience. Each reed can take up 2-4 hours to construct (in several stages), although several can be constructed simultaneously.  A good reed can last anywhere from a day to a month with regular use and constantly require little “tweaks” and “tunes.”

What about jazz bassoon?

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