Last month I received my Bell bassoon! I had ordered it in fall of 2019 and Benson gave me the heads up that it was almost finished in February. I am VERY slow to learn new equipment and it takes me forever to get the muscle memory of new shaped keys into my technique. My experience with the new horn so far had been great and I have been playing it exclusively since it arrived. Now I wanted to play them both back and forth to get some sound/resonance comparisons. I found this really confusing because the keys are in different locations and so my Heckel playing suffered, but I think from the video you can get the sense of the differences. The playing experience is quite different, I can only really explain the Bell as being more “juicy” and the Heckel as “dry” I still have a lot of work to do to figure out the Bell further!
“Largo al factotum” from the Barber of Seville, this is one of the six arias from the opera that have been set as a bassoon duet. The first time I played this was at a fiend’s bassoon recital. This is a flashy aria, but the others are more lyrical and all of them are comical!
One of my chamber groups, Keyed Kontraptions has started the season. This season is different due to the Covid outbreak, and so we have moved everything online. We are going to be releasing videos and online concerts performances in the next few months.
We are starting with a favorite piece of ours which is titled ‘Tapas’ by Marc Mellits. This is an eight movement work which is completely modular. The movements can be played in any order or just a few of them can be selected. This is a great way to build a program since we can use movements of this as an opening piece or as the closer. This piece was originally a string quartet which Marc arranged for soprano sax, clarinet, and bassoon trio.
I did an arrangement of the third movement on Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint for bassoon octet. This is a really interesting clarinet piece that puts emphasis on the bass clarinet lines.
The PDF of the arrangement is here New York Counterpoint Bassoons
Low A Mollenhauer contrabassoon for sale. Instruments with low A are uncommon and very useful. This contra has amazing tiger stripes on the maple which isn’t done any more. It comes with 2 Mollenhauer bocals.
Here is an arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture.
I had the opportunity to play a run of the entire prediction a few years ago. It was a reduced version and from my vantage point in the pit I could watch the whole show as it was going on, so I had a lot of fun. Throughout the comic operetta the characters individually going through harrowing ordeals that end up turning out for the better, with each of them better off than they began. The over arching message of the show is “We live in the best of all possible worlds”
PDF to the Score is here Candide Bassoons
I arranged the first movement of Widor’s Organ Symphony for 4 bassoons and 2 contrabassoons. This piece has been a favorite of mine for a long time and I always wanted to do an arrangement but it didn’t seem possible. I finally got around to doing it and I think it turned out pretty good.
The first bassoon. part has high F, F# and G so it would be good to have a high note setup to play the Bassoon 1 part. Here is the PDF of the score and parts.
I wanted to attempt to make my own high note bocal by drilling an additional vent hole. I have seen some articles mentioning bore size and placement so I decided to go for it. I bought a Fox CVX 3 specifically to destroy and some heat shrink tubing. The drill bit that I used is an Irwin #60, it is 1.02mm.
I drilled through the top of the bocal at both 20mm and 25mm from the tip. Then I set 2 pieces of heat shrink tubing to cover the holes.
This allows me to choose which vent to use and also how much of the vent to have uncovered. So far I have noticed that the vent closest to the reed helps with the notes above high F but the tenor register has an airy rasp to it. The vent farther from the reed helps with notes to high F with less distortion of tone.
With the shrink wrap tubing put in place, the bocal works like normal. So it can be used normally for a piece of music and a vent can be opened for the specific passage that requires it.
Keyed Kontraptions was the ensemble in residence at the University of California Davis Music Department 2019-2020. The residency and concert was originally scheduled to take place in April but due the the pandemic it was postponed.
Last month UC Davis was able to set up a system of low latency audio/video which allowed us to be in separate rooms but play together. This worked great and allowed us to record the concert!
This is my arrangement of Symphony Fantastique movement 4, March to the Scaffold. This contains a passage which is one of our great bassoon excerpts, originally it’s for the entire bassoon section to play as a 4 player soli. But I set it here as 3 bassoons 1 contra with the other parts playing the pizz. string lines. I think that this arrangement would also work if played on all bassoons without contras.