The unthinkable happened, in my absence my bassoon took a fall. I left it on a bassoon stand and left my room for a few hours. Some combination of either pets or siblings knocked it over and there was MAJOR damage done to my left thumb keywork.
The D key completely broke off and the C key was bent outwards by about half an inch. After finding it and nearly having a heart attack I immediately called Daniel Deitch. He scheduled me for a repair the very next day! I had a service of Marriage of Figaro the day and it only took him a few minutes to repair it.
He said that there had been a hairline crack in the key since the pieces were so oxidized at the ends and that maybe that key was damaged years before.
There is a spot missing in the plating but bassoon is back to %100
Daniel Deitch is amazing! If you are in SF you should really go and see him.
I have been lucky enough to get some opera work this summer, and even luckier that the orchestra is all great players! We are playing Marriage of Figaro with the Opera Academy of California. The venue is by the sea in San Francisco’s Fort Mason center which prompted me to revive my Legére reed.
My last Legére reed had so many cracks in it that it was eventually unusable and so I went right back to cane reeds. However this year at the IDRS convention I picked up a new one to see if maybe I had a dud before. So far this reed sounds great but there are cracks down one of the blades so we will see how much longer it will last!
I have been putting out reed orders for the past few months with great success and have had a great time connecting with customers. However it has been a hassle to manage reed orders along side regular gig emails etc. so I decided to create a reed website! It is a site that will be constantly updated with new products and cane sources. So feel free to check it out!
There is an icon (will make more sense in a few updates) at the bottom of the webpage linking to my eBay store. That is where I sell sale reeds or inventory that I need to move, usually at a reduced price.
This year was my first IDRS conference yet and it was amazing! I met so many legendary players and nice people. There was an entire room of vendors and instruments to try as well as a room full of music provided by trevco. The bassoon selection was impressive and included:
and oboes were brought by
It was odd that even though there were Loree oboes and Heckel bassoon at the conference. Loree and Heckel were not there only their used instruments were sold through other sellers.
Legère reeds were there and many more bassoons were hooked onto some synthetic reeds. Other innovations were brought by Guntram Wolf. They brought a Lupophon and the Contraforte.
Now this is particularly interesting to me because I have been seriously getting into contrabassoon and I feel a strong pull towards the contraforte. I am now raising funds to buy a contraforte to take auditions with. I have a list of repertoire to perform and record on it and was a great treat to get to play another one this week. If you ever get a chence to get your hands on a contraforte, test it! the dynamics, range, note connection is all much easier.
This is a project I premiered with oboist, Sydne Sullivan. Written by Joseph M. Colombo.
This year will be my first year attending an International Double Reed Society conference. I have always wanted to go to one but they have a been so far away. This year however, it is being hosted at the University of Redlands in Los Angeles from June 25-29. The schedule is packed with masterclasses, concerts, workshops and lectures from many of the biggest double reed artists currently active. I have already squirreled away a budget for the event and Im sure there will be many new products to try out.
I am particularly looking forward to Frank Morelli’s master class playing Sluka’s sonata, John Millers excerpt class, and the exhibit hall. There are events happening each day and a concert every evening. The two performances that I am looking forward to are Martin Kuuskmann performing Steve Paulson’s concerto for bassoon and Frank Morelli performing the Mozart.
This link contains all of the IDRS convention information for this year
This last month I have been playing in a musical. I am playing in a Stephen Sondheim show called “A little night music” it’s being produced with a reduced score.
I have never played a musical before! I’ve been in many operas and symphony shows but never a musical, so I was initially very confused as to how the woodwind part worked. This is so far what I have learned…
Reed 1 is flute, piccolo, alto flute, and maybe clarinet
Reed 2 is flute, clarinet, and maybe alto sax
Reed 3 is clarinet, bass clarinet or tenor sax
Reed 4 can be oboe/english horn
Reed 5 is baritone sax, bassoon, bass clarinet
this is basically what I know about musical scoring so far. I think that the reed parts are different for every show and what I gather is that most people who play in musicals regularly are able to double on many instruments. Basically everyone can play flute and clarinet and sax, but only one person has to have/play the oboe, the bassoon, and the bass clarinet.
A Little night music has me on Reed 5 and for this show this means that it is only a bassoon part, which is rare. What is also specific to musicals is having a long run of a shows. Most projects have a weekends of concerts but musicals can have multiple weeks of shows.
Woodwind players often try new things to “spice up” their playing. Even new instruments emerge with the amount of experimentation, new compositions, technology, and new materials available. Here are a few of my favorite double reed innovations of the last ten years.
German bassoon system add ons:
Moosmann low A bell
wing joint system to high G
more about Robert’s bassoon can be found at his website
Guntram Wolf Instruments
Kontraforte (revised contra bassoon)
Lupophon (revised bass oboe)
more information about Wolf instruments and products can be found at:
Loboe (low A oboe)
The new Püchner oboe bell
Marigaux plexiglass oboe
Fox plexiglass bassoon
Two weeks ago I acquired a French Bassoon. It was found in a middle school’s band room cabinet and had been neglected for many years. There is no manufacturer’s mark, the usual branding spot is the low D guard and this one has been removed. My best guess is either Selmer or Buffet. Also, my time with this instrument hasn’t been true to the period since it lacks a french bocal. Initially I could hardly get any sound to come out of it, I realized that some of the pads near the top of the tenor joint were leaking. So I did a temporary fix by wrapping the pads in plumber’s tape.
The fingering schematic of the lowest tritone is completely different from the German system bassoon. Luckily the Weissenborn method book comes with a full french bassoon fingering chart. After a bit of work, the layout of the low keys makes sense and it is just as fast as the German system. The one consistent problem is the transition from D flat to E flat. The rest of the instrument is very similar to the German system with slight modifications, especially in the highest notes.
I did some research into french bassoon reeds to try and create something that would work well for this system. Most of what I saw was a narrower shape with a longer blade and tube. What I decided to do was to use my regular Fox 2 shaper which is a bit narrow and leave a long blade. I found some great french bassoon reed images on the International Double Reed Society’s website under the “Reed Project” tab. There are reeds gathered from top double reed players from all around the world. I’m not sure if this link inly works from member but here it is.
The tone of the French bassoon is more muffled and nasal. It really reminds me of baroque bassoon tone but with less stability. The instrument doesn’t project as well, it seems stuffy without any “sparkle” to the sound. Also the half step isn’t clearly defined for most of the notes. The pitch center of the basson is very flexible and is stabilized with modified fingerings to bring the pitch up or bring the pitch down. My goal for this instrument is to eventually play the Saint Saens sonata on it and Daphnis and Chloe suite 2.
Maybe the most fun or visually artistic aspect of making reeds is the wrapping stage. At this stage is where the most (visual) variation happens from reed maker to reed maker. Some people still wrap with traditional thread, heat shrink tubing, glazes like duco cement or nail polish, or even completely unwrapped. In what I have read about wrapping it started as a way to ensure a complete seal of the tube. Now with our very precise shapers (some people bevel) the seal of the tube is not so much a problem. I have also read that reeds that have been wrapped are generally more stable and last longer than unwrapped reeds. I waiver with my finished reeds. I go through periods of months where I don’t wrap. But essentially I DO notice a sound change in wrapped reeds. They last a little longer and the sound is broader.
There are a few different threads to use and some work for oboe as well. For the last few years I have been getting thread from RDG. They have really nice colors an the quality is very good.
But more recently I’ve been buying Omega Thread. This comes in larger spools and it is slightly thicker so maybe oboe players would not be able to use it. I found my first couple of spools at forrests music with a huge mark up, $7.00
However if you look them up in other website it is cheaper. This omega thread is actually a very fine crochet thread and it’s widely available. This site has more colors than forrests and its only $2.80