Renting the Contraforte

contraforte

This contraforte is rentable! I have been so lucky in the last few years to get some great gigs but I can’t do every one of them. Many times there are enough bassoon players in the section to cover all of the parts but no one has a contra. So I rent out the contraforte on a short term basis. To rent the horn I need a few weeks notice and the player is required to come to the house for a brief lesson on assembly and maintenance. The rental is for use in California only, pricing is based on the project.

If you are interested in renting the contra just send me a message through the “connect” page

Green Reed!?

Green Reed

I tried an experiment last week involving a Green Reed for Contraforte. I just harvested some cane in early January and decided to try to immediately make a reed out of it instead of letting it dry. And this is what turned out! I regular reed that sounded and acted like any other reed but it was fresh green cane and didnt need to be soaked in water before I played on it. The texture was similar to a very hard piece of cane so I had to make this thinner than I would normally. After a few days it started to dry out and warp and is now is playing very sharp. Next I’m going to try this on regular bassoon.

I would suggest trying it to all of the cane harvesters out there!

Recital options

Suite V

This fall I am returning to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for a PSD (professional studies degree) in bassoon & contrabassoon. I am really excited to be studying with both Steve Paulson and Steve Braunstein and I think that my contrabassoon skill will increase significantly!

I am planning out a few recitals, and since this degree doesn’t require any academic requirements, I can program some difficult works. I haven’t decided on the order of the recitals yet but I have planned four recitals, two for fall and two for spring. So these are the possible programs in no particular order:

 

Paris Conservatory Commissions

Jolivet Concerto

Saint Saens sonata

Dutilleux Sarabande et Cortège

 

Villa Lobos (or just loosely South American themed)

Concerto

Duo (oboe, bassoon)

Bachianas Brasileiras bassoon No. 6 (flute, bassoon)

maybe a few Mignone Waltzes

 

Solo Baroque

Bach Cello Suite V

Bach Cello Suite II (possibly on contra)

Telemann Fantasias (some on contra)

 

IDRS repertoire

Vivaldi Concerto C Major RV477

Hummel Concerto

Dutilleux Sarabande et Cortège

Carter Retracing

 

 

Reeds Finally!

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.

kingbassoonreeds.com

International Double Reed Society 2013

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:

Püchner

Fox

Moosmann

Walter

Wolf

Schreiber

and oboes were brought by

Marigaux

Buffet

Fox

Püchner

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.

contrafortekris

 

 

Lupophonkris

 

 

 

Baroquecontrabassoonkris

musicals

A Little night music

 

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 Oddities

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 belllow a

wing joint system to high G

high G

more about Robert’s bassoon can be found at his website

http://www.robertronnes.com/MyBassoons.html

Guntram Wolf Instruments

Kontraforte (revised contra bassoon)

kontraforte

Kontraforte

Lupophon (revised bass oboe)

lupophon

more information about Wolf instruments and products can be found at:

http://www.guntramwolf.de/englisch/instrumente.html

Loboe (low A oboe)

Full Oboe Comparison

The new Püchner oboe bell

puchnerbell

Marigaux plexiglass oboe

MarigauxClear

Fox plexiglass bassoon

Fox

Thread

thread collection

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.

http://www.rdgwoodwinds.com/thread-solid-colors-c-2_79_86_148.html

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

http://www.forrestsmusic.com/thread.htm

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

http://creativeyarnsource.com/omega_nylon_no_2.html

Cane Harvest part II

This is the second post from my recent cane harvest. I harvested a bunch of cane from the Ventura river and dried it out. Now it’s time to get to the rest of the cane processes.

First I cut the “knuckles” out of the cane. These are the connecting sections of the cane that hold the shoots together. Since these knots are unusable it’s import to take them out without removing any extra cane, so I cut as close to the knots as I can.

 

Cane Cane

 

At this point all of the cane is free of the joints. This will help all of the sections of cane to dry more evenly. Some of the shoots were in the middle of a stalk of cane, and weren’t uniformly exposed to air.

Now with a caliper, I measure out every shoot of cane and mark the cut. I cut my cane to 120 millimeters because this fits all of my equipment. It’s important to keep in mind that cane continues to shrink as it dries out. So when cutting in the last few stages, its better to leave a millimeter or two extra.

IMG_4723

 

After all of the cane is cut to size, I store it vertically in a plastic bin. I leave the lid off and rotate it once a week since it is still drying out.

Home grown and harvested tube cane isn’t as pretty as store bought tube cane, but it cane be. Cane companies add a few extra steps like steam cleaning (which also sanitizes) they also sort out pieces with color variations. Home harvested cane isn’t quite as reliable as store bought cane either, not every piece cane be expected to become a good reed.

Bocals

Bocal Collection

Like many players, I am always on the hunt for another bocal. When I was first getting good at the bassoon I was very happy with my sound and then i tried a new bocal and my sound was all of the sudden SO much better. I think that experience created new way of thinking, that there is always a richer more vibrant sound that i can achieve.

So now I have a bit of a bocal collection going. I really only use one bocal everyday and then I have some specialty bocals. I have: Fox *CVX*R2, *CVX*2, CVC2, CVC3, C and then a few no name bocals that came with my student instruments. I am not a very big fan of Fox bocals but when i try a batch of them i usually find a good match in there. Fox bocals have also in my experience been the most consistent. I have had a few used Heckel bocals sent to me on consignment and there is a drastic different between two bocals of the same model.

I purchased a Fox *CVX* R2 last spring and so far it has been the best bocal I have paired with my Fox 601. It has very little resistance and great pitch control for low notes. The high notes are a little harder to get out than on my *CVX*2 which is the only reason i have a *CVX*2. My two CVC bocals came with my current bassoon and for me they aren’t as vibrant as i would like them to be, they tend to be a little muffled and don’t have the high notes.

I am VERY lucky to work down the street from Forrests Music. After work or on lunch breaks I often go over to test used instruments and bocals. I have gotten the chance to try out the Paraschos bocals and the Leitzinger bocals.  The Paraschos bocal comes in two forms, one as basically solid wood and the other lined with metal. In my experience the Paraschos lined with metal seems to be more resonant and the solid wood version muffles my sound. These bocals are also new so I’m not sure how long their live expectancy is (cracks etc.) Now the Leitzinger bocal is another recent addition or at least in the last few years. There are so many different specifications for these bocals; alloys, length, bend, plating and taper. I haven’t gotten to try all of the different options by far but for the few bocals I tried they seem to be very open and vibrant. Easy playing in all ranges but again i think certain models are better suited for the highest playing. Id seriously consider a Leitzinger as my next new bocal.

Last week I tried the Leitzinger bassoon as well, it seemed to me like more of a gimmick. Like they have great bocals and now they made a “bassoon to match.” It’s priced “competitively” at $24,000. I only got a few minutes with one, and I know that we are all used to our own instruments but the pitch and projection wasn’t even as good as a Fox 240. The f# and g# keys also must have been drilled incorrectly because anything involving those two keys was uncontrollably sharp and had far too much resistance.

These bocals can be found new or used (on consignment):

http://www.forrestsmusic.com

http://www.rdgwoodwinds.com

http://www.charlesmusic.com

http://www.millermarketingco.com