As an instrument maker I try to explain this matter starting from the construction of the whisper-keywork of bassoons as they are
normally used by viennese bassoonists:
Yes, old Öhlberger played a bassoon without any whisper-key-mechanism, he had only a small key fixed at the bocal. To open
and close the whisper-whole, he had to rise his right hand up to the bocal.
Therefore his technique was to play mostly with closed whisper-key, he opened the key only for playing passages in the
highest register, and was not able to switch fast between closed and open whisper-key-position.
This techinique is fundamental for the viennese bassoonists.
The next step was to make instruments for the viennese bassoonists with a simple whisperkey-mechanism by Heckel:
This mechanism had no link from lower E and only two keys for the left thumb: one for locking and one for opening the
whisper-key. There is no key for the left thumb as we know it from modern bassoons , where you can close and open the
This type of whisper-key mechanism is used even today by most of the viennese bassoonists.
I for myself adapted some of standard-made bassoons to this viennese type, or fixed this mechanism on old
Heckel-bassoons without any whisper-keywork.
Nowadays some viennese bassoonists trend to use the open whisperkey more often, or want to be free to switch easily
between closed and open whisper-key-position.
For this reason I invented a special mechanism which combines both: the modern whisper-key for the left thumb and an
I made this first for Turnovsky in 1997.
The bassoons presently played by the viennese philharmonics have:
Michael Werba: "viennese system" with two locking keys (but reversed function so that normaly the key is closed with a
strong spring, and held open by locking the "opening-key")
Harald Müller: "viennese system" same as Werba
Stepan Turnovsky: "rauch-system" with an additional link from lower E (but can be switched off !)
Benedikt Dinkhauser: "rauch-system" (with link from E to switch off)
Wolfgang Koblitz: "viennese-system", no E-link
Except the Koblitz-Instrument (original Heckel) , all whisper-mechanisms are made by myself.
You can get further informations here: http://www.fagott.at
if you navigate to "fagott" in the menu you will find detailed photos, videos and an english description refering to the viennese whisper-key-mechanisms, which I just have uploaded.
Now to the fingerings:
There are the viennese F and the viennese D, and there is also an old fingering for F#
o x x l x x o (+Ab)
o x x l x o o Ab
x o o l o x x F (+lowEb)
The instruments are not specially built for these fingerings, but the more those fingerings get uncommon, the more
instrument-makers don't consider it, so the older bassoons fit more to those special fingerings.
And, of course, each bassoonist has its own fingerings with additional closed or opened keys, depending on the instrument or
according to the required sound.
The reeds: Certainly the viennese bassoonists shape their reeds in a way that will fit to their special fingerings. The traditional
viennese reeds, as used by Werba seems to be quite strong, with a thicker heart and more broad at the tip.
I hope this information is helpful
woodwind-instrument maker, Austria
Last edited by rauch (2010-05-21 08:57:00)