The next few entries that I would like to post have to do with my reed desk. I firmly believe that the quality and reliability of someone’s reeds is directly affected by the quality of their reed tools. Generally I have found that people who have great reeds on a daily basis without any “reed panic” days tend to have great reed tools that are sharp and in adjustment.
I would like to post a few entires on a consumer level giving detailed reviews of some of my machines and products. This will be bassoon, contrabassoon, contraforte, or general purpose double reed equipment. I have no affiliation with any company but have chosen my equipment based on reviews, function and the recommendation of my teachers.
After a few weeks of having the contraforte I am having a recital! I am very excited about the program, and if you are in the bay area you should definately come. March 8 at 8pm at the San Francisco Conservatory of music. This is an all contraforte recital featuring
Mozart’s Contraforte Concerto (possibly known as an oboe concerto)
Dorf Contrabassoon duet
If we all live through it, there will be cake!
I just bought a Snark tuner to try out. Many of my colleagues have it and they have nothing but positive things to say about it. I have had clip on tuners before, or at least an extension to plug in to my regular tuner.
The Snark is very quick and responsive, there is no lag time waiting for the tuner to focus on the pitch. There are settings to either pick up vibrations directly from the instrument or to pick up sound through the microphone. The pitch level can be calibrated from 415-466.
This tuner is great for bassoonists because it can easily clip onto the bocal, or onto a oboe/clarinet bell. I actually purchased this tuner for my contraforte and like most tuners it cannot register the lowest octave. That would be my only drawback.
I have some basic care tools that I use to maintain my instruments. Key oil, cork grease, bore oil etc. But there are some things that I have found to be very useful especially in buying a used contraforte. The contra was in the use of Lewis Lipnick, a very accomplished and busy player. It had some tarnish on the keys, and I don’t trust myself to take it all apart to clean it. Contrabassoons and contrafortes also suffer from water problems. Contra is the only woodwind instrument that never EVER gets swabbed!
I found these silver polish strips to be amazing! You get a wet paper towel, wipe down the tarnished area and then just wipe it with the polish wipe and its done. I also have “acidic hand oil” like we all do, but mine can damage the plating of instruments over time. So this is a very easy way to keep my keys from damage. These I found at Bed Bath and Beyond
The other great find is Silica gel packets; this is a form of desiccant, or a chemical that removes moisture from the air. I bought a couple packs of these and I keep two in the contra case at a time. When the contra is put away in the case, the instrument is still filled with moisture and warm moist air. These packets help dry out the air inside of the case. I bought mine off of Amazon
The contrabassophone was invented in 1847 by Haseneier. It was intended to improve the contrabassoon at the time by using a very large bore and tone holes. There is a great resemblance to the contraforte! The contrabassophone has a less severe bore flair than the contrabassoon, and is closer to a cylindrical bore. The fingering system is also much closer to the Boehm system flute.
I finally got my contraforte and I’ve had a blast playing oboe and flute music! I have a long way to go to find a good reed shape, but this is a recording from my second practice session with the CF.
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.
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