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Discussion Starter #1
Well, my band director asked everyone at the beginning of the year if they wanted to play bassoon, and me being crazy I said sure. So I've been playing since August, and I have excelled pretty far. I have the basics done, but I am having so much trouble producing a good, singing bassoon tone, and i ususally play rather flat, and I am sure it is not the bocal, as I have tried many, so I figure I might be doing something wrong.

I have had previous expiernce with other woodwinds, I play Bb and bass clarinet in my local community band, Eb Clarinet and Flute in another one, and I play tenor sax for jazzband, so I am not sure if my doubling is taking a tole on my embosure. I ususally practice anywhere from an hour to 2 hours a day.

Any tips on getting that good bassoon tone and bringing up the pitch?
It would be well appreciated:D

255 Posts
Looking back on my bassoon playing i regret not putting enough of the reed in my mouth and i feel i would have had a fuller tone, and more control, if i did. So my advice would be to try that.

Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,260 Posts
Careful with fingerings for starters.There are some some bassoonists who insist that there is only one correct fingering for each note of the bassoon and that these fingerings must be used in every situation. Think that way-and your sunk like theTitanic. I prefer to know many fingerings for the bassoon and to use them as an artist paints using a palette of colors, applying the right tool to meet varying situations.

PLAY A STABLE REED !!!! In Heckel's pamphlet discussing tuning, W. Heckel recommended, "Do not play on reeds which have a fundamental tone higher than f#, g, g# or a, or the tuning of the bassoon will be too high." I also try usually to trim my reed for a good balance of low vibrations, mid-range vibrations, and high vibrations, aiming for a smooth tone not too "dark" or "bright" and having lots of resonance.

Try to make/buy reeds so stable that they can play in tune with a steady tone while sliding the reed back and forth across the mouth. Like so;
1. Place the reed in one corner of your mouth.
2. Close your lips around the reed to keep any air from escaping, but do not exert lip pressure on the reed.
3. Breathe normally and play a slurred two- octave scale up and down from low F to f'.
4. Every note should be in focus and sound bassoon-like. No note, especially in the range from c below middle c' to open f, should sound flat.

Here are some notes that I tend to deal with via tuning and flex;

bass clef staff d ;
relax embouchure, let reed vibrate slow, slightly shade the next tone hole lower on the tenor joint.

relax embouchure, ditto on same shading.

Try those- If you need more Email me ok?

Other thoughts are- The instrument must seal completely, pads and joints, and should be matched with the best possible bocal. The bocal is the single biggest factor in how a bassoon will play. An inexpensive bassoon matched with a fine bocal can be improved as much as 60-75%. This is no exaggeration !! Even a Yamaha super bocal will kick a student bassoon into gear ASAP.

The bassoon should be tested by a repairman whose specialty is bassoon or double reeds. Boom-done deal.

The reed is such a variable issue, should come from a bassoonist who sells reeds or from one of many reputable mail-order suppliers, and finally must be in reasonable playing condition. If the reeds leak around the bocal for example, it cannot be trusted to play in tune. A reed that is too hard or resistant, and or has an overly rounded or opened throat will tend to be sharp in pitch.

In short, buy good commercially available reeds from double reed suppliers, like RDG in LA or Forrests in San'fran.

Assuming that all the equipment is working properly, one then looks to the fundamentals of playing the instrument. The correct bassoon embouchure is a slight over-bite, with both lips drawn over the teeth and a round opening similar to whistling or blowing out a candle. The pressure, if one calls it that, is equal on all sides, and there should be no evidence of a “smile.” In the fundamental octave, that is up to the open F, it is helpful, to say the syllable “oaw.” This produces the round lip position and pulls the jaw down and open.

In the flat tenor register, just on top of the bass clef staff, from middle C up to about F#, one needs to raise the back of the tongue, shifting the syllable to “oee”, lift slightly up on the reed without biting and use faster air. This will produce the proper pitch and remain open and resonant.

All of these elements need good abdominal support and a focused airstream. One should expand around the waist like a doughnut during inhalation and remain naturally distended as one begins to blow through the bassoon. All students with whom I work need to be constantly reminded to increase air flow- this is an ongoing process, regardless of level.

If you check these links on my site- It might help more;

I also teach on Skype too;

Bassoon basics and so on.

Hope this helps-feel free to Email me-if you get confused.
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