Third Bassoon Lesson: Part 1

Uploaded by tewelltube on 13.06.2008


In lesson three we are going to do what I like to call the "articulation experiments."
Perhaps if you are in high school you have taken some
chemistry and physics classes and you have done
some experiments where you look at the data and you do a study.
I want you to have that in mind as we are looking at these experiments. These experiments
will tell us important aspects of articulation.
I think they help determine what method we use for
articulation on the basson and when it is appropriate.
So, let's get on with the articulation experiments. What you will need is a bocal and a reed:
a reed that is soaked, that is.
For these experiments I would like you to take a piece of paper and make a little graph,
little chart.
But first I will start with a little quiz. Let's see how well you do. How many ways can
you think of starting and stopping tones on the bassoon.
I can think of five ways. See how many of these ways you can put down on your piece
of paper. I encourage now you to stop the video and
try to think of the different ways in which we start
and stop tones on the bassoon.
OK, so how did you do?
Most of my students are able to find three ways in which to start and stop tones on the
bassoon. The first way being stopping and starting
the air.
The next being the embouchure. If you close off the reed all the way, it doesn't vibrate.
It doesn't matter how hard you blow, it doesn't
matter, if you close off the reed all the way
it doesn't vibrate.
A third way is with the tongue. I actually split this up into two ways (3rd and 4th way).
The tip of the tongue on the reed is one way to stop it, and also the tongue if it touches
the roof of the mouth in what we call double tongue or varied other tonguing techniques
that you might use on the roof of the mouth or the back of the tongue of the tongue (which
is another way to stop it).
The fifth way is very uncommon. It is one that we don't use with wind insturments (although
a few people use it). It is called a glottal stop. If you just go "ah...ah...ah" stopping
right there. You are stopping that tone with the glottis.
That can also stop the tone on the bassoon.
But that is not something we use for stopping the tone in wind playing. I don't advocate
So you now have the three basic ways. You have the air stop, you have the stop with
the embouchure, and the stop with the tongue.
Now we are going to test each method. I want you to make a diagram like the one shown
on the screen right now. One for charting the air, one for charting the embouchure,
and one for charting the tongue.
Now take your bocal, take your reed and we are doing this experiment on the bocal because
it is unstable. It makes
a great little party insturment. Use it on New Year's Eve!
It allows us to hear the signatures of each of these types of articulation. By signatures
I mean the characteristics of these types of articulation.
So the very first one we will test is the air articulation. I want you to keep the jaw
the same, the embouchure the same, and just start with
the air. Increase the air speed--like a crescendo-- and the decrease it. But keeping this [the
embouchure] the same altogether.
I will do the experiment for you right here.

I started with the tongue. This time I will start without the tongue.

Did you here the change in pitch there? As I increased the air the pitch went up. As
I decreased the air the pitch went down.
OK, put that on your chart right now.
Next we are going to test the embouchure. So I want you to take the embouchure
(if this is the reed and this is the embouchure) I want you to close off the reed altogether.
Then you are going to drop your jaw and then release
the reed, the reed is going to vibrate, and then
you are going to close it off again.
So let me do the embouchure articulation.

Did you hear how the pitch scooped down as I opened my jaw and then it went up as I closed
me jaw?
This is very important. This is is a characteristic of the double reed, as is the air [articluation]
Last of all--the tongue. So take the reed, put you tongue on it, the air starts, the
embouchure is all set. You release the tongue, the reed vibrates,
then you put the tongue back on the reed. Let's see what the
characteristic signature of that is.
There is just a straight tone.
OK, make sure to chart that as well. Now with those three determinations, now we are going
to find out the speed of each articulation.
So I want you to stop and start the tone as quickly as you can with the air.

I can't do it very fast so I would characterize that tempo as slow. Next I want you to take
the reed with the embouchure and stop and start with
the embouchure as rapidly as you can.

I can do that much quicker--you can hear that. But I don't have a lot of control. You can
hear how the notes are sagging [in pitch]. Then with
the tongue, the single tongue:
it is very rapid.
So we have learned some very important things, right now, as a result of our articulation
experiments. These results will carry over to our playing.
We have learned that if we are going to choose an
articulation by itself the tongued articulation superior. It is superior 1) because it retains
an even pitch; 2) for speed.
Now like many people I don't appreciate every note being stopped with the tongue, as it
were, like a sausage cut off at the end. abrupt stop with the tongue> That tends to be rude. That tends to be abrupt. So often
I and many others use a combination of the air and the
embouchure to shape the ending of the note.
We start each note with the tongue but we shape the ending with the air and the embouchure.

With proper shaping--remember when the air drops--the pitch goes down. So the embouchure
has to compensate for, it has to tighten.