Contrabassoon Fingering

I used to play a lot of contrabassoon. Since leaving the university system I don’t really have regular access but I make a good reed and played pretty well at a time.

Contrabassoon has some odd fingering issues. I compiled a fingering chart from Susan Nigro and Roger Soren (who play on very different contras, but they share some consistencies). Hard to find good fingering charts for contra, so I’ll put this one out there. Hopefully my nomenclature is helpful. “a” is the first/lower vent, “d” is the upper vent. Everything else is consistent from bassoon keys.

Contrabassoon Chart

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3 Comments

  1. Charles Gaskell

     /  April 27, 2014

    I’m interested that or the fingering for F below middle C, you give “seven fingers down”, rather than “all fingers off” – is there a reason for this, or does it depend on whether you are going E-F-E or G(b)-F-G(b)? What do you do about E-F#-E?

    Reply
    • On many contrabassoons the open F is quite flat and not terribly resonant. The harmonic fingering given is almost always more resonant and in tune. Of course your contrabassoon may have a perfectly fine open F, but many consider this the “full” fingering on the contra.

      But you are also right about technical considerations, the long F is handy for F to G or Gb, but the open F is often better for passages that don’t go any higher.

      Reply
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