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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
It began in Canada in 1969 with the publication To the World's Bassoonists and soon morphed into a full-fledged society.
Being an American bassoonist herself, and having chosen not to attempt a comprehensive, international approach to her subject, Schillinger provides a more in-depth treatment of American reed-making pedagogy in the fourth part of her book.
One Juilliard bassoonist gave a concert featuring indie rock-song variations alongside classical works.
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.
Despite Spencer's shaky beginning, it didn't take long for the prospective bassoonist to warm up to the instrument.
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Could the orchestra's chief bassoonist have had anything to do with the favouring of the Italians?
'Then we had a bassoonist join us from a local primary school, but buying the bass clarinet has enabled us to provide a much fuller sound.' Despite its enormous size in comparison with a standard clarinet - the player has to sit down to play it, resting the spike at the bottom of the instrument on the floor between his or her feet - it's played in exactly the same way as its smaller relation.
He picked up the bassoon for the first time, in fact, only because the Massapequa High School band he played in didn't have a bassoonist.
Robert Moore, trumpeter Stephen Dunn and bassoonists Steven Vacchi and Michael Curtis will be featured in a chamber music concert at 8 p.m.
Robert Moore, bassoonists Steve Vacchi and Mike Curtis and trumpeter Stephen Dunn on April 8; horn player Ellen Campbell and pianist Jennifer Garrett on April 16; string faculty members on April 17; tuba player Michael Grose and pianist Ezra Bartz on April 22; and the Oregon Brass Quintet on April 29.
Throughout their show, Fleck and company toyed with the boundaries of category and timbre, with the basic quartet of Flecktones augmented now and then by the remarkable bassoonist Paul Harmon and frequent Fleck collaborator Paul McCandless (from the group Oregon).