BASSOON (Fr. basson; Ger. Fagott; Ital. fagotto) , a
See also:wind instrument with
See also:reed mouthpiece, a member of the oboe (q.v.)
See also:family, of which it is the
See also:bass . The German and
See also:Italian names of the instrument were bestowed from a fancied resemblance to a bundle of sticks, the bassoon being the first instrument of the kind to be doubled back upon itself; its
See also:direct ancestor, the bass
See also:pommer, 6 ft. in length, was quite straight . The
See also:English and French names refer to the pitch of the instrument as the bass of the wood-wind . The bassoon is composed of five pieces, which, when fitted together,
See also:form a wooden
See also:tube about 8 ft. long (93 in.) with a conical
See also:bore tapering from a diameter of in., at the
See also:bell, to 3A in. at the reed . The tube is 4oubled back upon itself, the shorter joint extending to about two-thirds of the length of the longer, whereby the height of the instrument is reduced to about 4 ft . The holes are brought into a convenient position for the fingers by the
See also:device of
See also:boring them obliquely through the thickness of the wood . The five pieces are:—(1) the bell; (2) the long joint, forming the upper
See also:part of the instrument whenplayed, although its notes are the lowest in pitch; (3) the wing overlapping the long joint and having a projecting flap through which are bored three holes; (4) the butt or
See also:lower end of the instrument (when played) containing the double bore necessitated by the abrupt
See also:bend of the tube upon itself . Both bores are pierced in one
See also:block of wood, the prolongation of the double tube being usually stopped by a
See also:pad of
See also:cork in the older
See also:models, whereas the
See also:instruments have instead a U-shaped tube; (5) the crook, a narrow curved
See also:metal tube about 12 in. long, to which is attached the double reed forming the mouthpiece . The performer holds the instrument in a diagonal position; the lower part of the tube (the butt joint) played by the right
See also:hand resting against his right thigh, and the little bell, turned upwards, pointing over his
See also:shoulder; a strap
See also:round the
See also:neck affords additional support . The notes are produced by means of seven holes and 16, 17, or 19 keys . The mechanism and fingering are very intricate . Theoretically the whole construction of the bassoon is imperfect and arbitrary, important acoustic principles being disregarded, but these
See also:mechanical defects only enhance its value as an
See also:artistic musical instrument .
The player is obliged to rely very much on hisear in
See also:order to obtain a correct intonation, and next to the strings no instrument gives greater
See also:scope to the artist . The bassoon has an eight
See also:tone, the compass extending from Bb bass 1 - to Ab
See also:treble or in modern instruments by means of additional mechanism to C or even F_ These extra high notes are from their extreme sweetness called vox humane . The pitch of the bassoon apparently lies two octaves below that of the oboe, since the lowest note of both is B, but in reality the
See also:interval is only a twelfth, as may be ascertained by comparing their fundamental scales . On the bassoon the fundamental scale is that of F maj., obtained by opening and closing the holes; the notes downwards from F to B5 are extra notes obtained by means of interlockinginter1ocki keys on the long joint, worked by the left thumb; they have no counterpart on the oboe and do not belong to the fundamental scale of the bassoon . The fundamental scale of the oboe is that of C, although the compass has been extended a tone to Bb -t . Therefore the difference in pitch between the bassoon and the oboe is a twelfth . In the first At Wagner's instigation, the wind-instrument maker, W . Heckel of Biebrich-am-Rhein, made bassoons with an extra
See also:key, extending the compass downwards to A . Front view . Back view .
See also:Model . (Rudall,
See also:Carte & Co.)
See also:register of the bassoon, seven selmtones -- are t, to obtained, as stated above, by means of keys in the long joint and bell; the next eight notes (holes and keys) each produce two sounds—the fundamental tone, and, by increased pressure of the breath, its
See also:harmonic octave .
The remaining notes are obtained by
See also:cross fingering and by overblowing the notes of the fundamental scale a twelfth as far as
See also:Ate -( 1- which forms the normal compass . From A to Eb the vox` humana notes are produced by the help of small harmonic holes opened by means of keys at the top of the wind joint; exceptional players obtain, without additional keys, two or more higher' harmonic notes, which, however, are only used by virtuosi . This then forms the intricate
See also:scheme of fingering for' the bassoon, and in order to appreciate the efforts of such instrument makers as Carl Almenrader in Germany, Triebert and Jancourt in France,
See also:Sax in Belgium, Cornelius
See also:Ward and
See also:Morton in England, to introduce improvements based upon acoustic principles, it is necessary to understand what these general principles are, and why they have been disregarded in the bassoon . In all tubes the note given by the vibrating air
See also:column is influenced directly by the length of the tube, but very little, if at all, by the diameter of the bore . The pitch, however, is greatly affected by the diameter of the opening, whether lateral or at the bell, through which the vibrating column of air is again brought into communication with the
See also:outer air . The tube only sounds the normal note in proportion to its length, when the diameter of the lateral opening is equal to the
See also:internal diameter of the tube at the opening . As in most of our early wood-wind instruments the holes would in that case have been too large to be stopped by the fingers, and key-mechanism was still
See also:primitive, instrument-makers resorted to the expedient of substituting a hole of smaller diameter nearer the mouthpiece for one of greater diameter in the position the hole should theoretically occupy . This import-.
See also:ant principle was well understood by the Romans, and perhaps even by the
See also:ancient Greeks, as is proved by existing specimens of the
See also:aulos (q.v.) and by certain passages from the
See also:classics.' Another curious acoustic phenomenon bears upon the construction of wind instruments, and especially upon the bassoon . When the diameter of the lateral opening or bell is smaller than that of the bore, the portion of the tube below the hole, which should theoretically be as though non-existent, asserts itself, lowering the pitch of the note produced at the hole and damping the tone; this is peculiarly noticeable in the A of the bassoon lz`r—~= whose hole is much too high and too small in diameter.° To cite an example of the scope of Carl Almenrader's improvements in the bassoon, he readjusted the position of the A hole, stopped by the third
See also:finger of the right hand, boring lower down the tube, not one large hole, but two of
See also:medium diameter, covered by an open key to be closed by the same finger from the accustomed position; one of these A holes communicates with the narrower bore in the butt joint, and the other with the wider bore . The effect is a perfectly clear, full and accurate tone . Almenrader's other alterations were made on the same principle, and produced an instrument more perfect mechanically and theoretically than Savary's, but lacking some of the characteristics of the bassoon . In Germany Almenrader's improvements3 have been generally adopted and his model with 16 keys is followed by most makers, and notably by Heckel of Biebrich.4 '
See also:Macrobius in Somn .
See also:lib. ii. cap . 4 . 5 . = Gottfried Weber, " Verbesserungen
See also:des Fagotts," in Cacilia (
See also:Mainz, 1825), vol. ii. p . 12,3 . 3 See Traite sur le perfectionnement du basson, avec 2 tableaux,
See also:Charles Almenrader (Mayence, Schott), and also the above mentioned article by Gottfried Weber in Cacilia, whose explanations are clearer than those of the inventor . * For a description of the modern instrument see Victor Charles Mahillon,
See also:Catalogue descriptif et analytique du musee instrumental du
See also:Conservatoire Royal de Musique (Bruxelles, 1896), vol. ii. pp . 275-276, No . 999 . The unwieldy bass pommers of the 15th and 16th centuries led to many attempts to produce a more
See also:practical bass for the orchestra by doubling back the long tube of the instrument . Thus transformed, the pommer became a fagotto . The invention of the bassoon or fagotto is ascribed to Afranio, a
See also:canon of
See also:Ferrara, in a
See also:work by his
See also:Theseus Ambrosius Albonesius, entitled Introductio in Chaldaicam Linguam .
. . et descriptio ac Simulacrum Phagoti Afranii (
See also:Pavia, 1539) . The
See also:illustration of the instrument, showing front and back views (p . 179), taken in conjunction with the detailed description (pp . 33-38), at once disposes of the
See also:suggestion that the phagotus of Afranio and the fagotto or bassoon were in any way related; the author himself is greatly puzzled as to the etymology of the word . The phagotus in fact, resembles nothing so much as the musical curiosity known as
See also:flute-a-bec d colonne,5 but double and played by bellows, assigned by G . Chouquet to the 16th century . This flute consisted of a column, with
See also:base and capital, both stopped, the vent and the
See also:whistle being concealed within perforated brass boxes, in the upper and lower parts of the column . Afranio's phagotus consisted of two similar twin columns with base and capital containing finger-holes and keys; between the columns in front was a shorter column for
See also:ornament, and at the back of it another still shorter whose capital could be lifted, and a sort of bellows or bag-
See also:pipe inserted by means of which the instrument was sounded . The first instrument was made, we are told, by Ravilius of Ferrara, from Afranio's design.°
See also:Mersenne,' who does not seem to have any difficulty in understanding the construction of Afranio's phagotus, does not consider him the inventor of the fagotto or bassoon, but of another kind of fagotto which he classes with the Neapolitan sourdeline, a complicated kind of musette° (see BAG-PIPE) . Afranio's instrument consists, he states, of two bassons as it were interconnected by tubes and blown by bellows . As in the sourdeline, these only speak when the springs (keys) are open . He disposes of Theseus Albonesius's fanciful etymology of the name by showing it to be nothing but the French word fagot, and that it was applied because the instrument consists of two or more " flutes," bound or fagotees together .
There is noevidence that the phagotus contained a reed, which would account for Mersenne calling the pipes flutes . Mersenne's statements thus seem to uphold the theory that Afranio's phagotus was only a double flute a col onne with bellows . Evidence is at hand that in 1555 a contrabass wind instrument was well known as fagotto . In the catalogue of the musical instruments belonging to the Flemish
See also:band of
See also:Marie de Hongrie in Spain, we find the following: "
See also:Ala dicha princess y al dicho matoto dos ynstrumentos de musica contrabaxos, que Haman fagotes, metidos en dos caos redondas
See also:como parece
See also:por el dicho entrego."° Sigmund Schnitzer10 of
See also:Nuremberg (d . 1578), a maker of wind instruments who attained considerable notoriety, has been 5 As far as is known only three of these curious instruments are in existence; two in the museum of the Conservatoire,
See also:Paris, and one in Brussels; all three bear a
See also:trefoil as maker's mark; the smallest, in F, is reproduced in the Catalogue of the Musical Instruments exhibited at the Royal Military
See also:London, 1890, by Capt . C . R .
See also:Day (London, 1891), pl. iv . F . It is also described (with-out illustration) in Mahillon's Catalogue, p . 201, No . 189 .
The two flutes in Paris, measuring 73 cm. and 94 cm., are described by Gustave Chouquet, Le Musee du Conservatoire
See also:National de Musigue —Catalogue descriptif et raisonne (Paris, 1884), Nos . 409 and 410, p. l o6 . ' An Italian
See also:translation of the description is given by Count L . F . Valdrighi in Musurgiana, No . 4 (Milano, 1881), " II Phagotus di Afranio," p . 40 et seq . (without illustration) . An illustration of the phagotus is given by W . J. von Wasielewski in Gesch. d . Instrumentalmusik
See also:im X VI . Jahrh .
(Berlin, 1878), pl, v. and vi., text P . 74 . See L'Harmonie universelle (Paris, 1636), part ii. p . 305 . ° Ibid., illustrated and described, bk. v. p . 293 . 9 See Edm.
See also:van der Straeten, Hist. de la musique aux Pays-Bas, vol. vii. pp . 433, 436, 448 . 10 J . J . Quantz,
See also:Frederick the
See also:Great's flute-
See also:master, gives France the
See also:credit of transforming the
See also:bombard (pommer) into the bassoon, and the schalmey into oboe, see Versuch einer Anweisung die,Flote traversiare zu spielen (Berlin, 1752), p . 24 and again p .
241, § 6 . into bassoon . We learn from an
See also:historical work of the 18th century, that he was renowned " almost everywhere " as a maker of fagotte of extraordinary
See also:size, of skilful workmanship and pure intonation, speaking easily, Schnitzer's instruments were so highly appreciated not only all over Germany, but also in France and Italy, that he was kept continually at work producing fagotle for lovers of
See also:music' An earlier chronicler of the artistic celebrities and craftsmen of Nuremberg, Johann Neudorfer, writing in 1549,4 names Sigmund Schnitzer merely as Pfeifenmacher "und Stadtpfeifer . Had he been also noted as an inventor of a new form of instrument, the
See also:citizen and contemporary chronicler would not have failed to note the fact . If Schnitzer had been the first to reduce the great length of the bass pommer by doubling the tube back upon itself, he would hardly have been handed down to posterity as the
See also:clever craftsman who made fagottos of extra-ordinary size;, Doppelmaier, who
See also:chronicles in these eulogistic terms, wrote nearly two centuries after the supposed invention of the fagotto, the value of which was realized later by retrospection . An explanation may perhaps be found in Eisel's statement about the Deutscher Basson, which he distinguishes from the Basson (our bassoon) . " The Deutsche Bassons, Fagotte or Bombardi, as our German ancestors termed them, before music was clothed in Italian and French
See also:style, are no longer in use " (Eisel wrote in 1738) " and therefore it is unnecessary to waste paper on them."3 This refers, of course, to the bombard or bass pommer, the extraordinarily long instruments which Schnitzer made so successfully . From this it would seem that our bassoon was not of German origin . In the meanwhile we get a
See also:clue to the early
See also:history of the pommer in transition, but we find it under a different name in no way connected with fagotto . In order to shorten the unwieldy proportions of the tenor pommer in C, and to increase its portability, it was constructed out of a block of wood of rather more than double the diameter of the pommer, in which two bores were cut, communicating at the bottom of the instrument which was flat . The bell and the crook containing the double reed mouthpiece were side by side at the top . This instrument, which had six holes in front and one at the back as well as two keys, was known as the dulceian, dolcian, doucaine, and also in France as coustaud and in England as the curtail, curtal,4 curtoll, &c., being mentioned in 1582—" The
See also:common blcting musick of ye
See also:Drone, Hobius (Hautboy) and Curtoll." The next step in the
See also:evolution produced the double curtail, a converted bass pommer an octave below the single curtail and therefore identical in pitch as in construction with the early fagotto in C .
The instrument is shown in fig . 2, the
See also:reproduction of-a
See also:drawing in the MS. of The Academy of Armoury by Randle Holme,5 written some
See also:time before 1688 . At the side )f the drawing is the following description: " A double curtaile.6 1 J . G . Doppelmaier, Historische Nachricht von den Niirnbergischen Mathemalicis und Kunstlern (Nurnberg, 1730), p . 293 . 2 See " Nachrichten von Kunstlern und Werkleuten Nurnbergs aus dem Jahre 1549," in R . Eitelberger von Edelberg's Quellenschriften fur Kunstgeschichte und Kunsttechnik des Mittelalters (Vienna 1875), vols. viii.-x . ' See J . J . Eisel, Musicus autodidactus odes der sich selbst informierende Musicus (
See also:Erfurt, 1738), pp . 104 and roo, and also J .
Mattheson, Das neu-eroffnete Orchester (
See also:Hamburg, 1713), " Basson," from whom Eisel borrowed . * See the New English
See also:Dictionary, and Bateman upon Bartholinus, 423, I, margin . 6
See also:British Museum, Hari . MS . 2034, fol . 207b, a reference communicated by
See also:Hughes-Hughes from his valuable appendix to part iii . (Instrumental Music and
See also:Works on Music) of a Catalogue of MS . Music in the British Museum (London, 1908-1909) . The Appendix contains a
See also:list of typical musical instruments represented in illuminated
See also:MSS., or described in other MSS.in the British Museum, with brief description and full references . 6 Compare Randle Holme's double curtail with the dolcian in C, pl. vi . H. of Capt . C .
R . Day's catalogue, and with a dolcian or single curtail by J.C . Denner inPaul de Wit's Katalog des Musikhistorischen Museums von Paul de Wit (
See also:Leipzig, 1903), p . 127, No . 38o, and illust. p . 121 (Collection now transferred to Cologne) . Consult also497 This is double the bigness of the single; mentioned ch. xvi. n . 6 (the MS. begins at ch. xvii. of bk . 3) " and is played 8 notes deeper . It is as it were 2 pipes fixed in on(e) thick bass pipe, one much longer than the other, from the top of the lower comes a crooked pipe of brass in which is fixed a reed, through it the wind passeth to make the instrument make a sound . It bath 6 holes on the outside and one on that side next the man or back part and 2 brass keys, the highest called double Lcz sol re, and the other double B mi." We may therefore conclude that the satirical name fagotto, presumably bestowed in Italy, since the French
See also:equivalent fagot was never used for the basson, was not necessarily applied to the new form of pommer at the outset, but in any case before 1555; that the very
See also:term Phagoto d'Afranio, by which the instrument was known during its
See also:short fabulous existence, with its pretended Greek etymology, presupposes the pre-existence in Italy of another fagotto with which Afranio was acquainted, perhaps imperfectly . Afranio's was the age of ingenious mechanical devices applied to musical instruments, many of which, like Afranio's, being mere freaks, did not survive the inventor .
A document selected from the valuable archives published by Edm. van der Straeten 7 suggests a satisfactory clue: In 1426
See also:Louis Willay, a musical instrument maker of Bruges, sold to Philippe le Bon a triple set of wood-wind instru- FIG . 2.-Old English ments, i.e . " 4 bombardes, 4 doucaines double curtail (before and 4 flutes," to be sent as a
See also:gift to 1688) . Nicolas III.,
See also:marquis of Ferrara . The (From Hari . MS . 20341n new instrument, the doucaine, we may Brit . 141us.) imagine, by its unusual appearance provoked the satirical wit of some courtier, and was henceforth known as fagotto . Just a century later Ravilius of Ferrara made Afranio's first phagotus from the inventor's design . The bassoon has been a favourite with all the great masters, excepting
See also:Handel .
See also:Beethoven uses the bassoon largely in his symphonies, writing everywhere for it
See also:independent parts of great beauty and originality . Bach, in his mass in B
See also:min., has parts for two bassoons .
Mozart wrote a concerto in Bb for bassoon, with orchestra (Kochel, No . 191) . Weber has also written a concerto for bassoon in F (op . 75), scored for full orchestra . See also Etienne Ozi, Nouvelle Methode du Bassoon (Paris, 1788 and 1800) ; J . B . J . Willent-Bordogny, Gran Methodo completo per it Fagottp (Milan, 1844), with illustrations of early bassoons (English edition, London, J . R . Lafleur & Son) ;
See also:Joseph Frohlich, Vollstandige Musikschule fur alle beym Orchester gebraachliche wichtigere Instrumente (many practical illustrations) (Cologne,
See also:Bonn, 181x); article " Bassoon," by W . H .
See also:Stone and D .
J . Blaikley in
See also:Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.) ; article " Fagott " in Mendel's Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon; for the history of the instrument, and of its prototypes, see OBOE and BOMBARD . (K . S.) BASSO-RELIEVO (Ital. for " low
See also:relief "), the term applied to sculpture in which the design projects butslightly from the
See also:plane of the background . The relief may not project at all from the
See also:surface of the material, as in the sunken reliefs of the Egyptians, and may be nearly flat, as in the,Panathenaic
See also:pro-cession of the
See also:Parthenon . In the early loth century the term basso-relievo, or " low relief," came to be employed loosely for all forms of relief, the term mezzo-relievo having already dropped out of general use owing to the difficulty of accurate application .
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