Topic: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

I have seen most North American players adding the Eb (or C#) key to the middle G in order to flatten it.  My teacher insisted on me doing it (although I didn't listen).  I know of an European-trained player who doesn't do it.

Is this a mainly North American practice?  Perhaps someone from Europe or trained there could chime in?

By the way, the middle G is sharp on French bassoon also, but those players would not add any key to flatten it.

Sincerely,
Wai Kit Leung

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

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Re: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

I studied in Salzburg for six months. As far as I remember, every bassoonist used the E-flat key. I don't know anyone in the United States who plays G3 without it.

"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: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

My teacher was a colleague of the late great Gerald Corey for many years.  He said that the use of the E flat key changes the timbre of the note, making it sound somewhat different from the the other notes of  of the scale.  He taught a neat little trick to check your pitch.  It is possible to lip the note down to the proper pitch.  To know if you have it right, play a G and press the E flat key.  If the sound of the note changes, chances are that you are still sharp.  When the pitch and timbre remain the same whether or not the E flat key is pressed, you're playing it right.   He was right.  I do not use the E flat key.

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

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Re: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

To me if you don't use the Eb key the note stands out dramatically both in tone color and pitch. Sure you can force it down, by why do that?

I've known some bassoonists that don't use the Eb, but I disagree with a passion. Always always use the Eb in my opinion.

I can hear it when you don't.  smile

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: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

So, does one go with greater evenness of tone color but with a sharp pitch, or a slight change of timbre but with a more properly centered pitch?

I go with the latter. I use the key.

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Re: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

Here is an odd one, I do all three! (Low C#, low Eb key or no vent for G), G still goes a little sharp on me with all three if I am not paying attention, but sometimes I can get a nicer cleaner (better color) staccato without the vents. I live in Spain and most players use the low Eb key here.

*True, I do not vent on French bassoon for G either, I do not like the color or response with the low keys

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

Re: Middle G (top space, half hole) - Add Eb Key?

Having to use or not use the low E-flat or low D-flat keys on G3 will depend a lot on the bassoon. On my 5K Heckel I did not have to use those keys until after tone hole liners were inserted into the tone holes. That could explain why some players use those keys and others don't. Happy New Year.

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