Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Not so soon, bassoon

The photo, and the paragraph below are the works of The Bassoon Brothers.
We have an important mission! We want you to enjoy the bassoon! Whether you play it or just appreciate the instrument’s tone and versatility we want to share our enthusiam about the instrument with the world. We also want to prevent the extinction of our wonderfully versatile family of double reed instruments by encouraging as many of you as possible to take up what is commonly called the “belching bedpost”. If that is totally out of the question, at the very least, enjoy it and tell your friends that it is not an oboe!
What a wonderful undertaking to save the bassoon. We need such missions and
missionaries to save things of value and culture.

This is how grandly a bassoon appears before you (height varies from 5 to 8 feet):

Brenda Ladd. (
The bassoon is now an endangered species of the musical world. And there is a Save the Bassoon campaign underway, which was initiated in June this year, across Europe.

Whatever the reason for the dip in popularity, the bassoon deserves a place of respect. And one certain way of placing it in the pantheon of 'alive-instruments' is informing people about its sound. It'd be immensely useful if people recognise what a bassoon sounds like; it will give it place in people's memory.

Musicians such as Bram van Sambeek are doing such work. According to him,
“only about 1 per cent of people on the street can recognise this instrument”. (Link)
The bassoon is not popular in jazz. This surprises me as the jazz gods can easily incorporate the sound in their compositions. And pop-music doesn't feature the bassoon either -- and it can incorporate anything since it is the artistic hub of our time (well).

While you read further, why not allow yourself (or not) to be seduced by Vivaldi's Sonata for Bassoon and Harp in A minor.  

Especially from the 3:07 mark, the bassoon sounds so modern, meaning, it can easily be a jazz centerpiece. You know it can, it is so evident! There must be a reason.

Bassoonist Daniel Smith tells us:
The challenges to overcome were many, including the fact that anything played on the bassoon in jazz, whether a simple melody or serious improvisation, is several times more difficult to achieve than on, for example, a saxophone... the bassoon is a ‘ten year’ instrument, meaning that to achieve the level of a virtuoso requires roughly this amount of time, whereas... one can learn to convincingly play the saxophone in a fraction of this time.
I end with this conundrum - the problem of time in these times.  

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