New Contraforte Bocal

Contraforte Bocal

I received a new Contraforte bocal as a late Christmas present this year! When Wolf sends out a contraforte they send it out with one bocal, presumably something well matched to the instrument. This has been their system for a while and reflects in their period instruments as well. Since the instrument is custom made so is the bocal to match it.

One of the great aspects of playing bassoon and contrabassoon is that each player sounds different and unique, part of that is the player and part is the equipment. I also think that changing equipment/reed shape/bocals can make someones playing easier depending on what qualities they like to bring out in their playing. So having one bocal as my default bocal forever with no other option made me a little antsy. I contacted Wolf about 2 years ago and asked if they could make me a second bocal. At the time I was making shorter contraforte reeds and my pitch would travel a little high and so I asked for a longer bocal. Well they asked me why I would want another bocal and what I thought it would change. I honestly was just curious, anything slightly different would have its own characteristics, no two bocals are the same etc.

I was selling some bassoons through Midwest Musical Imports and I asked if they could email Wolf and get this started for me. And it just arrived! So far the obvious characteristics are a lower center of pitch and easier high register. This will be my primary bocal for now to figure out any other differences.

Romantic Contrabassoon

A few months ago I worked on a project that required a romantic era contrabassoon! The basis of the project was to track the development of the contra over time and play some of the music written for each instrument.

Here in the Bay Area we are very lucky to have David Granger who is a period bassoon expert. And he was generous enough to let me use one of his period contras for this project.

Romantic Contrabassoon

Although I ended up getting in a few practice sessions on it; I found that I’m not a great period player, and this instrument has much more potential than what I could perform. I was able to play some Beethoven and Brahms on it but I never was able to get a high Ab which is in Brahms’ 3rd Symphony.

Romantic Contrabassoon Bocal

Both of David’s period contrabassoons were made by Wolf in the style of the Viennese contras. This is a unique instrument because it can be tuned to A=415 or 440 with the use of two different lengths of bocals. The bocal looks similar to a bassoon bocal but has a drain and is upside down when assembled with the crook.

Romantic Contrabassoon Bocal

When I practiced different instruments in the same practice session I was getting frustrated with the Romantic instrument. I liked it on its own, but if I played a modern instrument and switched back to romantic then it seemed so unstable and difficult to play. Period bassoons in general have a less focused sound, and so I’ve never gotten into performing on them.

Bassoon Contraforte Contrabassoon Romantic Contrabassoon

The reeds here are supplied by Wolf and were made by Stefan Pantzier I tried my hand at making a few and they turned out okay. The shape is similar in dimensions to the Contraforte C2 shape but with a shorter tube. The thing I didn’t try was adjusting the gouge to something more appropriate to the era. In the time before gouging machines people gouged by hand and purposefully gouged the center thinner. This meant less work had to be done in profiling and finishing a blank.

Romantic Contrabassoon Reeds

Contrabassoon Contraforte Romantic Contrabassoon

What’s a case?

This is mostly only going to interest me, I just got a contraforte gig bag. The case that the CF came in is a large aluminum travel case and I have been trying to get a gig bag for  a few months. I tried to do some research into this gig bag; not only are there no pictures anywhere, it is not listed on the Wolf website. I was lucky enough to buy this through Midwest Musical Imports, who is the only Wolf distributor in the U.S. So here are the two cases..

The aluminum travel case is similar to what Maurice Rouillard makes at rouillardcases.com in Canada. However this case has rotating closures and wheels. The firm foam holds the CF in place, there are interior pouches for bocals and small accessories. This has been a great case but it is very large and heavy, I don’t need it for everyday use.

contraforte case

contraforte case

contraforte case

contraforte case

contraforte case

I just received the contraforte gig bag this week and so far it has been very easy to commute with. It has very thick interior padding and is lined with felt. The exterior has a music pouch, accessories pouch and backpack straps. The case does not have interior bocal storage so I’ve been keeping the bocal in an extra Fox bocal box in the front.

contraforte gig bag

contraforte gig bag

contraforte gig bag

contraforte gig bag

 

 

 

Bassoforte

Bassoforte

left hand
left hand
right hand
right hand
left thumb
left thumb
right thumb
right thumb

The Bassoforte is a product of Wolf and Eppelsheim. This redesign of the bassoon has a greater dynamic range and a greater playing range, down to A1 and a yet unknown upper register. The fortissimo is up to 7dB louder than the modern bassoon and the wide conical bore creates a richer warmer sound. Not yet commercially available, this is meant to be the “wind band bassoon” One of the few possible setbacks is the large size which doesn’t break down into a small case, and because of the new design “forked Eb” doesn’t work, Eb is fingered like it is on the contra with a few alternate Eb keys.

bassoforte

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