Topic: Flicking Bb - Which Key to Use?

Dear all,

Which key (A or C) do you normally use for flicking the Bb just below the middle C?  I have always used the A key, but just realized many people use the C key.

Sincerely,
Wai Kit Leung

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

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Re: Flicking Bb - Which Key to Use?

Hello Wai Kit, I am guessing your confusion is from also being a French system player. French bassoon Bb  sounds better with the A key vented, on German bassoon I usually flick the C for Bb. Here in Spain I am a minority, most Spanish bassoonists use the vent keys like a French bassoon. Our orchestra school students always use the C key for Bb. Since you are not holding the key down, I do not think it matters as much. I will often also flick overblown Ab ( and other notes), for awkward slurs on my German system horn. If in doubt, hold down the vent key and pick the one you like better, if it is a quick flick, do what sounds easier and clearer.

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

Re: Flicking Bb - Which Key to Use?

Hi Steve, my confusion didn't stem from playing the French system.  I grew up flicking the A key for Bb (I was self- taught), and Cooper also listed the A key for flicking Bb.  The Bb the octave above also uses the A key, while the B and C higher use the C key.  I was very surprised when I learned recently that people flick the C key for Bb.  I guess whatever works is good.  I am just a bit more rigorous now that I am teaching.

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

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Re: Flicking Bb - Which Key to Use?

I'm fairly certain that acoustically the C key is closer to the right location for a correct Bb vent.

I don't think the high Bb is related harmonically to the fingering for the lower two octaves (F# is a harmonic of one of those Bb notes, not sure what the high Bb is related two from the fundamental octave of the instrument)

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: Flicking Bb - Which Key to Use?

The flick keys for the B-flat 3 (just below middle C) depends on the age of your German bassoon. If it is a pre-World War II or long bore instrument the high C key works. For later instruments use the high A key. Having said that, regardless of their age or bore design, bassoons can vary. Therefore, try both keys. Use the key that works best. You may also encounter having to use a different key for some reeds. (Intersting instrument we play - not at all standardized!)

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