Topic: Peer Gynt

Hey  everyone:

I am playing my first first bassoon part  As you know, I'm amateur.  The whole Peer Gynt suites are pretty doable, but there is a series of fast Bb-F#-Bb (3rd octave) that has proved to be pretty hard.  I am using what I call German F#: WK+!/2-x-x -Eb (LH)  x-o-o (RH) and the conventional Bb AC# + x-x-x (LH)  0-x-o-F(RH).

This is crazy, but the alternative fingerings, that would facilitate (i.e. trill fingerings) just won't work.  I tried to find new fingering options, but I didn't find a good alternative.  Any suggestions?  It is a tutti passage, all woodwinds are having problems, only the oboes have it easy!!   My sources for fingerings are Toplansky (don't like much) and Seltmann vol2 (love it).  Any other suggestions?
With thanks,

Rev. Mike Nahas


Re: Peer Gynt


A couple of things come to mind. I don't have the music with me right now, but I think you are referring to the Bb (Bb3) above open F and the F# (F#4) above that Bb. Slurring up to the F#4 often results in response problems. Try altering the left hand fingers to O X O, that is only keeping the second finger down. This works best for the "conventional" or standard fingerings.

See for suggested standard fingerings for F#4.

Sometimes leaving the first finger off entirely may help the slur to F#4 as well.

Terry Ewell
Professor Bassoon, Towson University
Former President, IDRS
Former Principal Bassoon Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony


Re: Peer Gynt

I think he's talking about Bb4 ("High" Bb) and F# above the staff.  This is indeed a tricky slur.

First of all, Mike, Something that might help you is this fingering for F#, I normally use the version with the low F key, but it also works (I think, don't have my bassoon handy) with the Bb key version you're using:

o x o | x x o Bb

F# for me always has the first finger left hand totally open, not half holed and no whisper key (I don't think, I can't tell without a bassoon in my hand!)  Leaving off the third finger may help greatly in slurred situations.  It makes no sonic difference on my horn so I use that left hand set up for F# all the time.  Like I said I ususally use the low F key instead of Bb on the right hand though.  Experiment a little bit.

As far as the Bb fingering, put your first finger down on the right hand.  From what I know that is the normal fingering for that note.  Leaving the first finger off is more useful as a trill fingering from A to Bb.  Depending on what F# fingering you're using you can substitute for the low F key the low E key (did that make sense?).  The tone is a little more muffled, but who knows, maybe it helps you in a slurr situation.  I usually use that for ppp attacks.  Note that the Whisper key is automatically depressed when using that right hand choice due to the low E-whisper connection.

So one possible combination, which might not work at all, but I'm just throwing it out there, is to use these two fingerings alternating:
o x o | x x o F      and      (W) Ca x x x | x x o E

Just throwing some fingerings out there.

When in doubt though, if it's a tutti passage you can add a light tongue and nobody will no the difference.  :-)

Last edited by Trent (2007-04-09 21:10:48)

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds