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(băso͞on`), double-reed woodwind instrument that plays in the bass and tenor registers. Its 8-ft (2.4-m) conical tube is bent double, the instrument thus being about 4 ft (1.2 m) high. It evolved from earlier double-reed instruments in the 16th cent. and by 1600 was common throughout Europe. When the orchestra developed in the 17th cent., the bassoon was one of the original woodwinds included and has been indispensable ever since. It was much improved in the 19th cent. in both France and Germany; the French and German bassoons have since differed from each other appreciably in tonal quality and construction. Although used in chamber music, the bassoon has only a small literature as a solo instrument. When played staccato it can have a humorous effect that has been frequently exploited by composers. The contrabassoon, also called double bassoon, is pitched an octave below the bassoon. Fingering is the same for both. The contrabassoon's tube, more than 16 ft (4.9 m) long, is doubled back upon itself four times. First made by Hans Schreiber of Berlin in 1620, it was used by Handel, Haydn, and Beethoven. Technical imperfections hindered any extensive use until a German, Wilhelm Heckel, in the late 19th cent. improved its construction and intonation, producing the model in general use today.



a wind instrument. The bassoon, formed by a U-shaped conical tube ending in a bell, consists of four parts. Sound is produced by a double reed attached to an S-shaped metal tube, which connects the reed to the bore. The bore contains 25–30 side holes, five or six of which are covered by the fingers and the rest by keys. The instrument has a range from B b below the bass staff to D or F at the top of the treble staff.

The bassoon was developed in Italy in the 1520’s and 1530’s and was introduced into the symphony orchestra in the mid-18th century. It is used in symphony orchestras, which generally have two or three, sometimes four, bassoons, in wind orchestras, and in other ensembles; it is also used as a solo instrument. Music for the bassoon is written mainly in the bass and tenor clefs. Of the other varieties of bassoon, only the contrabassoon is widely used.


Levin, S. Fagot. Moscow, 1963.
Levin, S. Dukhovye instrumenty v istorii muzykal’noi kul’tury. Leningrad, 1973.
Chulaki, M. Instrumenty simfonicheskogo orkestra, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Heckel, W. Der Fagott. Leipzig, 1931.


a woodwind instrument, the tenor of the oboe family. Range: about three and a half octaves upwards from the B flat below the bass staff
References in periodicals archive ?
My mother, not knowing what a bassoon was, said, 'Oh sure,' " Spencer says.
Spencer, principal bassoonist for the Oregon Mozart Players since 2007, will be the featured soloist for Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat Major at the chamber orchestra's final performance of its season on Saturday.
She listened to the bassoon part in Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt" Suite.
The role of the bassoons is quite independent of the other parts, and they do play pretty much as a pair all the way through this movement.
This contrast between the horn (slow, serious, bold, noble, exclamatory with wide intervals) and the bassoons (quick, jolly, burbling with more ornamentation and small intervals) actually gives us two simultaneous affects--a contradiction to those who assert that baroque music is only about one affect at a time, and perhaps a reason why Bach's music bears so many listenings.
Possibly the most serious part of the evening comes with Malcolm Arnold's Four Cornish Dances, but the undoubted curiosity is the world premiere of the bassoon concerto Romancing the Phoenix by the elegant Canadian light-music composer Robert Farnon, with American bassoon virtuoso Daniel Smith as soloist.
The bassoon has to be amplified, Smith points out, to be heard above the rhythm section, let alone the rest of the instruments.
In the article that started this exchange, for example, he invoked the bassoon part of the Dresden Missa to bolster his contention that ripieno singers read from the same music as concertists.
8) Yet before Koopman rushes to tell us that this implies doubled flutes and oboes, I would invite him to take a second look at the combined bassoon part for the `Quoniam': as illus.
We also know that the band (who travelled in the barge behind) consisted of two trumpets, two French horns, two clarinets, two German flutes, two bassoons, two oboes and a double drum.
According to the dust jacket, he is "Professor of Baroque and Classical Bassoon at The Royal College of Music, London, and Director of the period instrument ensemble Badinage.
Carroll's purpose in writing the hook is "to provide a guide to the history of the four main woodwind instruments of the Baroque era, the flute, oboe, recorder and bassoon, and to help those who are interested in acquiring a basic technique for playing these instruments" (p.