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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The development of machines (gougers) in the 1840s, which replaced the simple hand tools that previously had been used, allowed players to make large numbers of reeds that could meet the new demands placed on orchestral and solo bassoonists. However, these reeds had a far shorter life than those made with the older process.
The bassoonist, who is a sought-after soloist and chamber musician, began his studies with LEiszlE Hara in Helsinki, continuing on as a post-graduate student at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin, where he studied with Klaus Thunemann.
One Juilliard bassoonist gave a concert featuring indie rock-song variations alongside classical works.
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Finalists were bassoonist Naomi Mace from Egglescliffe; Azusa Tanner, a pianist and at 13 the youngest competitor who attends Conyers School in Yarm and 16 year-old soprano Clare Tunney from St Mary's College, Middlesbrough.
The major cause is the conducting of former bassoonist Evelino Pido, who himself seems to suffer from bouts of somnambulism.
Dawson, a retired hand surgeon, is a bassoonist, medical consultant to musician's organizations, and retired professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern U, who specializes in performing arts medicine.
He was an excellent bassoonist and had toured with youth ensembles and played in professional orchestras.
Army, where he was a bassoonist in the band, then studied dance in New York City.
Reeds are the vibrating portion of woodwind instruments and the source of much irritation to clarinetists, oboists, bassoonist, and saxophonists.
Job: A Musical Drama is a composition by Harold Wevers, composer and first bassoonist with the Lakehead Symphony Orchestra of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The expansion has seen the acquisition of the Centre for Young Musicians Library (originally the Inner London Education Authority collection) of orchestral and choral sets, which can be hired by orchestras and choirs around the country, and the collection of wind music assembled by the bassoonist Alan Cave.