Topic: French Whisper Key

Will those of you familiar with the French Whisper key (on the German bassoon), please delineate the various employments for it's use?  When and where, both technically and in repertoire would be useful. Oh,, this is where there is only the FWK installed separately from other auxiliary modifications. Thanks for your time.

Nicholas Evans-Bassoonist, Bassoon Repair and Restoration Mechanic.

Re: French Whisper Key

I have never played a German bassoon with a French whisper key, but I do play the French bassoon.  I think anything involving C#s will be much easier on a German bassoon with a French whisper key.  The opening to the Marriage of Figaro Overture comes to mind.  Also one can hold the "flick" key and the whisper key at the same time for venting, instead of flicking.  This is how the French and the Viennese do it.

Sincerely,
Wai Kit Leung

Last edited by wkleung (2012-12-03 18:19:55)

oboe (French, Viennese, baroque), bassoon (German, French, baroque), shawm, dulcian

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Re: French Whisper Key

Another alternative to the left thumb whisper key that I have found very useful is a right thumb whisper key. It can be placed above the thumb b-flat key on the butt joint.

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: French Whisper Key

I use mine pretty much every day. It's especially useful when sluring from low notes to anything above E2. It's also useful when sluring over the first break, and there isn't much time to get off a vent key and onto the whisper key. Last weekend I used it in a fast-moving arpeggio that started on B-flat4 and ended on B-flat1. It's something you can certainly live without, but after havin one I can't imagine owning a bassoon without one.

"It's not my job to give you the pulse! It's your job to figure it out!"
-An Allegedly Professional Conductor

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Re: French Whisper Key

ChrisW wrote:

Another alternative to the left thumb whisper key that I have found very useful is a right thumb whisper key. It can be placed above the thumb b-flat key on the butt joint.

Hi Chris --

I'm trying out a bassoon that is equipped with a right thumb whisper key.

I can think of one note in particular for which it is handy: high B.

When else would you use it?

To the OP: my bassoon, and the one I have on trial, have French whisper keys. It's a useful key. I use it fairly often. Think of times in which you would like to have the whisper key depressed (but not locked) and have your left thumb available to use the flick keys. That's an example of when the French whisper key is useful. Another example, as someone already mentioned, is a passage with many C#s. Using the pinky whisper key relieves the thumb of the task of depressing the whisper key spatula, freeing it up to depress the C# and the low D spatulas.

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Re: French Whisper Key

William Safford wrote:
ChrisW wrote:

Another alternative to the left thumb whisper key that I have found very useful is a right thumb whisper key. It can be placed above the thumb b-flat key on the butt joint.

Hi Chris --

I'm trying out a bassoon that is equipped with a right thumb whisper key.

I can think of one note in particular for which it is handy: high B.

When else would you use it?

a passage with many C#s. Using the thumb whisper key relieves the thumb of the task of depressing the whisper key spatula, freeing it up to depress the C# and the low D spatulas.

Seems like you have at least a partial answer there. I can imagine a right hand whisper key useful in this situation.

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: French Whisper Key

I find my LH pinky (French) whisper key is useful in pianissimo passages.  Many notes can be muted by pressing the low B flat key or the low C key.   If I am playing a top space G or lower, and I want to mute the note, I press my French whisper key and then I can take my thumb off the the whisper key without any danger of the note cracking.  Then I can use the left thumb to mute as I please.

Last edited by Dean (2012-12-12 06:42:21)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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