Writing for Orchestra Part 10 ~The Bassoon

Now we have come to the last official member of the woodwind family; some have considered it rather cumbersome because of its unique size, but it is still a beautifully noble instrument, nonetheless:the bassoon. I haven't scored it yet in a CD of mine but when the need arises, I definitely will. So what about this enigmatic instrument? A ninteenth-century teacher and composer, Carl Almenrader, is noted for having devised the instrument to the model we know today. It has a wide range of four octaves and has 17 keys to play. It is rumored that Beethoven was especially interested in his new developments for the instrument! He worked in what was known as the Schott factory, reputed as a popular and innovative musical instrument factory and Almenrader eventually left and started working in his own factory with his partner, Johann Adam Heckel. To this day, Heckel's standards forever dominates the bassoon-making process since he even took them a few steps further than Almenrader. Heckel models are the Stradivari of bassoons. So what are some famous examples of this instrument which can be conmsidered as the bass instrument of the woodwind family? Mozart's Bassoon Concerto is one that comes to mind right away. Also, if we jump a few centuries ahead, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles classic "Tears of a Clown" is the best example I can give as far as a modern use of the instrument in Pop. If you have trouble locating it, it is the percussive, low-sounding instrument that is under the countermelody once Smokey sings the title in the song. I would use the bassoon sparingly in tender parts because it also has an expressive power that can even equal the oboe or English Horn. Ok, next time I will start talking about the Brass family. For my next few blogs, I'll share with you some of my latest musical adventures and before the year is out, I will have some MAJOR things to put on this site so keep coming back coming!:) BKT

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