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Unstable G#

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 13 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #88487

    Neville Forsythe
    Participant

    On my aging Puchner as with many other brands of bassoons my students play, the 1/2 hole G# is only reliable for its instability – tends to overblow in running passage work and leaps to upper E. I take great care with the 1/2 hole (making it more like 1/4 hole), and monitor my fingers to check I’m not inadvertently leaking another finger. I suspect it may be a late finger dropping but I can’t verify that either.
    Any hints?

    Neville

    #105052

    Trent Jacobs
    Participant

    Much of this might be very rudimentary, and I certainly don’t mean to insult your intelligence with any of these, but I’ll take a few stabs at it.

    Is the whisper key getting down fast enough? Is the whisper key sealing completely? With any half hole notes we have to make sure the whisper key is down or there could be instability issues (although usually the problem is tone or intonation).

    Are there any leaks in the A, B or C keys? Same issue as whisper key, we don’t want leaks.

    If any finger is late in coming down I would suspect the middle finger of the left hand. Especially since that one is on a somewhat awkward tone hole, both in it’s placement and it’s slanted direction, it’s easy to let that one leak.

    Is there debris in the F tone hole under the first finger? Or debris in the tenor joint? Pipe cleaner the tone hole and swab out really good. A bit of debris (or spit for that matter) could make unpredictable results in half holed notes.

    I agree that 1/4 hole is probably more accurate than 1/2 hole for Ab/G#. I know many players that leak way too much.

    Anything you can do with the reed? I know if my reeds are closing up on me they’ll produce this kind of negative behavior. Maybe try opening the tip from the first wire just the tiniest bit to add some resistance (if that’s really what’s happening) to that register.

    Ab/G# is a crummy note. We all have problems with it sometimes.

    I hope some of this was helpful, although I’m much less experienced than other members of the board, these are the things that I would check for.

    #105053

    Gene Carter
    Participant

    I’m taxing my memory here, but on an IDRS list post some time ago Arthur Grossman offered a reliable alternative to the conventional G# fingering, which causes everyone demons at one time or another. Play the usual half-hole fingering but instead of the G# key use your right thumb A key. (what I can’t remember is whether the C# is added to that and I don’t have a bassoon out right now). Its awkward for fast passages but produces a rock solid G# when it absolutely has to be there. Play around with it a bit and you’ll find the right combination. Comes in handy sometimes.

    #105054

    Mark Ortwein
    Participant

    Gene,

    You mean the Left thumb “A” key. It works, but it is flat and adding the c# also makes it too sharp.
    I use a little half hole and “don’t” use the whisper key. This for me clears it up when tonguing G#. I do use the whisper when holding a G# though.

    Mark

    #105055

    Neville Forsythe
    Participant

    Thanks for the hints – it is mostly a problem for me personally in very fast passage work combined with angular writing or lots of adjacent F#s or arpeggiated passagework – and generally at higher dynamic levels when pushing the envelope . So its quite difficult to pin down the circumstances esp as its not consistent in its unreliability.

    Neville

    #105056

    Neville Forsythe
    Participant

    Have just played a shortish bit in a concert of short pieces – Beethoven Piano Quartet in Eb Rondo – not too difficult but full of Abs and I chose to use my good old standard Puchner crook – all was well. maybe the original probem emanated form my change to a new Leitzinger crook – in an effort to improve my altissimo register. Ot maybe it was just a bad reed day!

    #105057

    Anonymous

    Sorry for jumping in this thread at the very end, but here are some observations based on my limited experience.

    Having also played oboe, I tend to look at the fingering/acoustical problems of the bassoon from that perspective as well. The bassoon’s Ab is analogous to the oboe’s Eb–same position on the instrument, basically the same fingering, except that the oboe has a “half-hole” plate that automatically provides the proper venting.

    Which brings me to the Polisi bassoon, which has a “half hole” plate just like the oboe’s. I used to own a Polisi, and aside from all the other problems on the horn (and there were many), this note (as well as the G and F#) was a breeze. I never “squeaked” on the Ab and G, which was very reassuring for a beginning player. On conventional bassoons, I know the “received wisdom” is that the first finger half-hole must vary in size depending on the note, 1/4 open for the Ab, 1/2 open for the G, and approximately 3/4 open for the F#. But on the Polisi, as I said, one hole size (probably sized to favor the Ab) seemed to fit all.

    You can try this experiment, which I did the other day on my 240. Place a piece of tape (Scotch, masking, it doesn’t matter) on the F hole so that it exactly covers the hole half way. Then play a series of sixteenth notes in alternation on the Ab, G and F#, fortissimo and heavily tongued, but with the left index finger “up in the air”. When I did this, every note sounded perfectly–I didn’t get a single squeaked note.

    What this says to me is that an “automatic” half-hole plate on the bassoon could be a very workable solution. The only drawback if you get used to using one (as I did on the Polisi), is that is makes switching back to a normal bassoon difficult, say if you have to play somebody else’s horn in a pinch.

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