What is a Bassoon?

The BassoonThe bassoon is a woodwind instrument that has a double reed. Its cousins include the oboe and English horn, which are both double reed instruments. Many people recognize the bassoon if they hear the music of Peter and the Wolf. The bassoon is the grandfather because of the dark, mellow sound that the bassoon has in the low register. Another famous solo for bassoon is in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. When all of the cleaning things come to life, the melody at that part is played by a bassoon.

This is what happens when you play a low Bb. The air comes out of the top of the bassoon!

This is what happens when you play a low Bb. The air comes out of the top of the bassoon!

To make a sound, you blow in a double reed. When the reed vibrates it creates sound that is sent through the entire instrument. To make different tones, you press down a combination series of keys and holes. The sound is produced because the vibrations only come out of the holes you did not cover. Although the bassoon has a opening at the top, called a bell, not all the notes comes out of it. In fact, only one note comes out of the bell, low Bb. The reason for this is that the bassoon is close to 8 feet long, but since that is too hard to play, they folded it in half. The bassoon is known for its broad range of 3 1/2 octaves!

ContrabassoonAlso in the bassoon family, is the contrabassoon. Every note that comes out on a bassoon, comes out an octave lower on the contrabassoon because of how big it is.

Whether or not you are a bassoonist, bassoon music can be very fun to listen to. Check out the video of “Breaking Winds Quartet: Lady Gaga Saga”!



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