Sundowning II by Lily Chen was written for Keyed Kontraptions in 2018. She based the subject matter on her own personal experience with her grandmother, and the changes that occured with her dimentia. Here is an excerpt from the forward of the piece:
“Sundowning is a neurological phenomenon most commonly seen in sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with sundowning usually begin to show behavioral problems after the sun sets. Sometimes they get agitated, restless, or even aggressive; sometimes they suffer from auditory hallucination, illusion, or even delusional disorder. Such syndrome visited my aged grandmother, which put her in a state of mood swings, mental confusion, and cognitive disorder. I found her physical functions obviously degenerating; she even lost her sense of hearing the week before her death.”
Here is my arrangement of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I used Kristian Oma Rønnes Expanded Bassoon Register fingering chart to play the high register in the first bassoon part. I would highly recommend checking it out! Below is a PDF of the arrangement.
I was looking to try a Takeda Bassoon, which has been hard to locate in the USA. In my searching I looked through the Takeda website and I saw that they have developed a new wing joint which is touted to improved air flow and pitch.
Their new system switches front tone holes 2 & 3 and makes them point up the bore. This ends the tone holes in a stretch too wide for a natural finger spread and so keys have been added.
Whenever I play on a bassoon that has the left hand third finger tone hole key added I notice a big improvement in my technique. So I would be curious to see what adding two keys would do.
I did an experiment on a bassoon recently, I painted it! In the beginning of the quarantine I bought a plastic tenoroon from China, it plays well for what it is. I thought I would use it more in arrangements but then it would make the arrangement less accessible for people without a mini bassoon.
I painted it with a matte lilac spray paint and it came out great, so I decided to do my Linton bassoon also. My Linton sits in my closet now that I don’t teach, and I use it for outdoor evening gigs. For the Linton I used a darker lilac satin spray paint and the resulting finish has a bit more shine to it.
John Steinmetz wrote Four Signs in 2014 and I was lucky enough to attend the SF Premier with Steve Braunstein and Steve Paulson.
This duet is special because the second bassoon part switches to contra in movements 2 & 4. John also uses a technique in the first movement where the 2 lines cross each other alternating notes, this effect doesn’t come through clearly in the recording but in a live concert hall it creates a really satisfying sound.
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.