Extended low register fingerings

Using some mulitiphonic based fingerings, you can play to an F (or even E) below the lowest B-flat on the bassoon. Here’s a demonstration:

The fingerings are basically normal notes with a node left open.

Low A: play low F but leave off the third finger of left hand.
Low G#: Play low E but leave off third finger left hand
Low G: Play low Eb but leave off first finger right hand
Low F#: Play low D but leave off first finger right hand
Low F: Play low Db. Slide the second finger of the right hand so that is only pressing the ring key alone, but not actually covering the tone hole.

On notes where it is possible and doesn’t disturb the basic fingering, you can add either the low B-flat key, pinky C-sharp or pinky D-sharp (i.e. low D-flat and E-flat keys) to stabilize the fundamental on some of these pitches. I’ve found them to be quite variable on different makes and models of bassoon, so you might have to experiment a bit to find stable fingerings for your setup. A solid reed that isn’t too soft is also really helpful.

New Techniques for the Bassoon

Most college level bassoonists have begun to experiment with “extended” techniques on the instrument.  As part of my DMA preparation I am doing a lot of research on extended techniques.  No list of techniques is exhaustive, but one book (that is unfortunately no longer in print, but might be found at your college library) has a very extensive set of detailed descriptions on various extended techniques.  This book is Il fagotto : altre techniche : nuove fonti di espressione musicale (The bassoon : other techniques : new sources of musical expression) By Sergio Penazzi.  It’s got loads of multiphonic fingerings, timbre trill fingerings, flutter-tonguing technique… loads of stuff described in detail.  He also likes to use the typically undesireable noises of the keys on the bassoon deliberately for effect, sometimes within the context of a pitch.

Along with the book are supossed to be two disks with audio examples mentioned in the text.  Unfortunately they’re vinyl, and set up very odd at that – they look like 45s, but they play at 33rpm… go figure.  Anyway, I took the liberty of digitizing the examples, so if someone doesn’t have access to a record player, or if the disks are too damaged on the copy they have available, you can hear the examples here.

So here are the examples from the book.  I’ve run the files through a filter to remove the more offensive crackling and popping, but the source disks weren’t in great shape, so this is probably the best I could do.  Each clip is an entire side of a disk, running about 9 minutes.

If there is demand I’ll edit the post to contain a brief description of what the example is doing, but most of it is pretty intuitive.

I have no idea how he makes the insanely high notes.  I didn’t read that part of the text.  It’s gotta be with an insanely stiff reed and teeth.  Holy crap…

Bonus fun: play all four samples at the same time

Update: I found the files after having lost them, and now they’re back for good!

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