• Wish list
  • Choose your store
    All countries
  • 0

Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Bassoons

7. History

The bassoon is the largest instrument in the woodwind family. Its closest cousin is the oboe, as they both have a double reed, but the bassoonist also has a crook or ‘bocal’ on which to place the reed before connecting it to the instrument. The bassoon’s conical bore has thick walls that are usually made out of maple, and it is these, together with the reed, that give the instrument its distinctive sound - a humorous, bright and bouncy staccato, but also a dark and sonorous singing quality.

The forerunner to the bassoon was the dulcian. Although there are numerous similarities between the two, such as the double reed and metal crook, there are also some important differences. The main one is that the dulcian was usually carved from a single piece of wood, whereas the bassoon is made from four separate joints - the bell, long, tenor and butt joints - which enables the maker to achieve much greater accuracy when boring out the wood. The dulcian existed independently alongside the bassoon for some years, and is still played today by early-instrument specialists.

Reproduction Dulcian

The bassoon’s invention is frequently attributed to Martin Hotteterre, as it is he who supposedly created the four-part system in around 1650. By adding a couple of keys, the natural range was extended down to B flat, and fifty years later, the bassoon had gained another two keys (and still later three), thereby increasing its chromatic capabilities. It is this instrument that was used for the music of Bach and Vivaldi, the latter composing no fewer than thirty-seven bassoon concertos!

Technical and musical demands increased over the years, and the instrument continued to develop, with more and more keys being added to stabilise the tuning - there are up to twenty-eight keys on a modern instrument. There are, however, two different systems - the French and the German. The German system, which is the most well-known format, was developed mainly by Johann Heckel who fashioned the singing tone quality for which the bassoon is revered today, and it is his model that German system instruments rely on. Please note that this article deals only with ‘Heckel’ or German system instruments. The French system or ‘Buffet’ is substantially different to the Heckel, and is generally not used in England or Germany. French bassoon is played in niche ensembles and in many European orchestras, but opportunity for the student or amateur is very limited.

At the start of its life, the bassoon was used primarily to play bass lines. If a wind instrument, or sometimes a male singer were carrying the melody, a bassoon would join the basso continuo (cello and keyboard) to augment the sound. As the instrument’s abilities developed, the bassoon was also employed to play solo lines. The bassoon’s role in a modern orchestra does not differ so much from this basic model - it forms a bass for the wind section, just as the cellos do for the violins, but it is also frequently employed as a soloist, as in Dukas’ ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ and Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ for instance. Its expressive dark sound is particularly popular with film music composers.

Your Contact People
Phone: +49-9546-9223-26
FAX: +49-9546-9223-24
Get Your Free Copy of our Hot Deals Catalogue!

More than 7.800.000 musicians are avid readers of Thomann's Hot Deals catalogue. Get your free copy now! More than 500 current offers!

Hot Deals
Question!
Question! Give the right answer and win 1x Phonic PCL2700 worth €75.
What is the real name of Bob Dylan?
Conditions of participation
Terms and Conditions for participation
in online competitions

Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

  1. Competition

    1. The competitions are organised by Thomann GmbH, CEO: Hans Thomann, Hans-Thomann-Straße 1, 96138 Burgebrach, Germany.
  2. Participation

    1. Competitions are only open to persons of full age.
    2. To take part in the competition you must answer all questions correctly, fill in the registration form and submit your entry to Thomann GmbH by pressing the "send" button.
      By pressing the "send" button the participant accepts the aforementioned terms and conditions.
    3. The participant is responsible for entering their email and/or postal address correctly. Entries to the competition will be logged electronically.
  3. Qualifying Entrants

    1. Staff of Thomann GmbH and any cooperation partners and their dependants are excluded from participation.
    2. Should these conditions of participation be violated, especially by using illegitimate means, Thomann GmbH reserves the right to exclude persons from the competition. In case of such violations prizes can be withdrawn and claimed back subsequently.
  4. Announcing the winner

    1. The winners will be notified by Thomann GmbH by email or in writing and their names may be published on the homepage www.thomann.de. The winner accepts this form of publication explicitly.
      Should for whatever reason the winner not claim their prize, then a new winner will be drawn.
    2. The prize presented to the winner may not be identical to the item description. There can be deviances regarding the model, colour etc.
    3. The merchandise prizes will be sent by Thomann GmbH or by one of its contracting delivery companies, per freight forwarder, courier or postal service to the postal address indicated by the winner.

      The delivery is free of charge. Only extra transport costs and customs/duties must be covered by the winner. In the case that the delivery has to be made through a freight forwarding company the freight forwarding company will contact the winner to arrange delivery timings.
    4. An exchange, cash alternative or replacement prize is not possible.
    5. The claim to the prize or replacement of the prize cannot be assigned to a third party.
  5. Data protection

    1. The participant accepts explicitly that Thomann GmbH saves all necessary data for the duration of the competition and forwards them exclusively for purposes related to the winning process to the respective cooperation partner, who is also permitted to save the personal data only for the duration of the competition. The participant is free to withdraw his entry at any time. Please direct the withdrawal to:

      Thomann GmbH
      to the data protection officer
      Hans-Thomann-Straße 1
      96138 Burgebrach, Germany
    2. Thomann GmbH is obliged to consider the regulations for data protection according to the Federal Data Protection Law (BDSG) valid at the conclusion of the competition. In this context the general data protection regulations under notes regarding data protection should be noted.
  6. Liability

    1. Thomann GmbH will be released from any obligations by handing out the prize.
    2. Thomann GmbH is not liable for the insolvency of a cooperation partner and the resulting consequences for the implementation and processing of the competition.
  7. Other

    1. Legal proceedings are barred.
    2. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany applies exclusively.
One of our groupies
I would like to thank everyone at Thomann for the quick and efficient service.Wishing you all the best for 2017. Happy new year.
paul.millxxxlaws@gmxxx.com, 01.01.2017

Bassoons overview

(53)
(1)
(1)
(13)
(1)
(1)
Feedback

Found an error or want to give us feedback about this page?

We're looking forward to hearing from you and aim to solve any problems as soon as we can.

cancel