Topic: Realy High notes

On  http://fotos.hispavista.com/fagot i saw sheat music for bassoon. It starts on 4th space e (treble clef )and proseads to the a above it !! i also herd this song plaved on you tube. does any one know how to play them? if so could you please tell me? i thought the bassoon could only reach realy high e. could this be only posible on a french key system? i think  they can go a bit higer then the german key system. Any input would be appreciated.


-Mr Bassoon
9th grade bassoonest

Last edited by Mr Bassoon (2007-09-04 18:29:42)

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Re: Realy High notes

High F usually requires an extra key, but I've been able to play it with just an E key.

E             
o o o | o o x  Ab
  a      Bb

Comes out as a high F on some horns.  Very hard to get the note out without first playing the E though (pinky moves from the "d" flick key to the "a" key)

For F# I use:

x x o | x o o
  a

Again, very hard to just come in on this note.  Really firm air support and just the right wind speed required.

High G:

x o o | o o o
  a

Obviosly related to the F# fingering listed above.

Now, for Ab, the only fingering I've had work is a total parlor trick, and not something you could ever do in practice (as if any of these are practical in any way).  Play the G as stated above, then bring your right hand above your left hand and press the "c" and "d" flick keys down.  On my horn it raises the G up about a half a step, although it's a bit low.

I don't know a fingering for high A, although I know that there is a chart on IDRS online that has it.

The highest note I've ever seen in a bassoon piece is the C above that (C two ledger lines above the treble clef staff).  There wasn't anything leading up to it, so it was more for show than anything.  The score had a suggested fingering that said something like "use your teeth on the reed and tilt your head to the left" or something else equally absurd.

The guy in the video (he's active on this forum but he rarely gives out his secrets) plays a German system bassoon.  He states that he modified it in some way to make high notes easier.  I don't know if that means he put keys in different places or if he added extra holes in the bore to accommodate those notes.

(the following is my negative opinion of ridiculously high notes, don't get mad, it's just how I feel)
I'm all for expanding the capabilities of the instrument, but the old fogie in me (at the ripe age of 26) says that the bassoon is not a soprano instrument.  It's at best a tenor instrument, and versatile as a bass instrument.  The only thing that will come out of these sorts of experiments is that composers will write music that uses these notes!  Why when we have the oboe?  I dunno, silly "virtuosity"...

Last edited by Trent (2007-09-05 19:40:51)

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

Re: Realy High notes

I don't know about playing notes above e on German system (for most of the lit that exists it is not necessary), but piggybacking on what Trent said, as a composer I think it is foolish for a composer to write above E5. Furthermore, I think there is an argument for not writing above Bb4 in large ensemble lit (with the caveat of solo and chamber-type sections) because it is unlikely to be heard unless the desired effect is a subtle change in tonal color change.

that's my two cents as a composition and bassoon student.

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Re: Realy High notes

Hi BrutusBassoon:

Have you played or heard any of the great French pieces written for bassoon.  Many of them contain high F's and while they are probably easier to negotiate on the French system, many of us enjoy playing them on the German system.  Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Realy High notes

perhaps foolish was the wrong word, but I do stand by the fact that the composer sets himself up for a riskier scenario when writing above E5 than when he does not. As a composition pedagogue I would advise a student not to write above that e, but as a bassoonist I would be more willing to (attepmt in my case) to play above that.

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Re: Realy High notes

When I was in university, I performed the Tansman Sonatine for a composition class.  One student remarked they didn't realize high E's were so easy to play.  I had worked pretty hard on the piece so I was getting the E's quite well.  I thought for just an instant and told the class--no they are not easy to play!!!!  I wondered how many high E's and higher I would now have to play when I read their new pieces.  Anyway, I got one piece later and I must say it was one of the hardest pieces I have ever played.  It looked simple at a glance because it was slow and had a lot of whole notes but it contained low B flats that used extremes in dynamics (at least 3 p's and 3 f's) but also a pp high E flutter tongued and other unusual effects like this.  I did work on it so I could play it but I don't remember how successful I was.  Kent

Last edited by Kent Moore (2007-12-24 07:22:32)

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Realy High notes

There are pieces for bassoon that have high notes. I think that it is not correct to prohibit the composers to put high notes...
Also you can say that they should not put difficult tonalities, rapid tempo, ect...
It would be much more reasonable to use my system and to touch high notes without problems.

http://fotos.hispavista.com/presentacionAlbum/visualizarFoto/index.phtml?idFoto=466372&nombreAlbum=fagot&orden=

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=kMzdHvnI53Q

Merry Christmas
Mikhail

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Re: Realy High notes

It says on the web site that he cut his reed in half !!! Now lets play Tschaikowsky 6th in tune and pp with the same reed. !!!!

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Re: Realy High notes

I modified a bassoon, instead of a cane. I have established some additional keys on a bassoon. I used a usual cane of average weight. Length of a cane - 59 mm.

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Re: Realy High notes

High notes, the ones above D are brutal (Tansman sonatine, Saint-Saens sonata). i remember reading somewhere that high aflat is a possibility,  but I don't think an a(6?) on the first leger line above the treble is possible. French bassoons and heckels have the same written range, but Boehm i believe tends to speak easier on the high tones like e and f and such, but don't quote me on that.

EDIT: after viewing that link, those first few measures look brutal and the high a I am pretty sure is not possible to play

Brass bands are all very well in their place - outdoors and several miles away. ~Thomas Beecham

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Re: Realy High notes

If you have an Ab/Bb trill key, you can play high F's with ease:

1/2 x x | x x x
   C#          Ab/Bb trill

you will probably need to really eat the reed (no teeth, just lots of lip pressure, with the entire reed - up to the 1st wire almost - in your mouth)

An alternate Eb:

      Eb
1/2 x x | o x o F/F#
      C#
    D

I use this almost exclusively in the Piard book (such a nice guy...wrote plenty of tongued high note leaps for us!)

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Re: Realy High notes

High E and F are standard for the 1st bassoon. The high F occurs in Wozzeck as well as pieces by Bernstein (Westside Story) and Francaix. I have also seen high f's in Zenakis as well. I have never needed a high F key even for the Joilivet Concerto as it is frequently approached by a high E. There is also a high F in the Boutry Interfences work for Bassoon and Piano.

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Re: Realy High notes

Someone else here will probably remember the details better than me .... but I've seen high note bocals that had a very small hole (maybe 0.020") drilled about an inch or so from the reed.  This is like another whisper key, when you don't want to play high notes cover the hole with tape, or use another bocal that you haven't ruined!

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Re: Realy High notes

More info on holes in bocals.

http://www.doublereed.org/IDRSBBS/viewtopic.php?id=3445

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Realy High notes

In the Violin Concerto of György Ligeti there is a passage with high E-F-G. He wrote this notes in the printed score: "This notes must be played. Never play them an octave lower." Then a second passage begins with a high G. The note of the composer above it: "It's possible!"
Funny old man, huh?

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Re: Realy High notes

that high G is actually easier than the high F, ( LH first finger and high A key) the simple trick is to only crack the high A vent (less than a mm) and the G should pop right out, no teeth. - Steve

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.