Fourth Bassoon Lesson: Part 2

Uploaded by tewelltube on 17.06.2008


Well in this part of the lesson you are going to discover a second essential tool for helping
us develop as musicians. We worked in the last lesson with the metronome. My metronome
looks a little bit like a flying saucer. Yours probably looks different. The metronome is
absolutely essential. But in addition to that we need
another tool that helps us work on intonation. I believe
that you as a student should not only use the metronome every day. but you should use
another tool everyday.
That tool is what I call "drones." This is just a single, flat pitch, sounding pitch.
Actually I've chosen the sound of an organ because it's
very rich in harmonics. It helps us more easily tune
to a set note but listening how the note fits.
You can use these drones by downloading them as mp3 files from
I have my drones burned on a CD here and I have a CD player. But I realize that very
soon CDs will be passe. But if you have an iPod
put it on your iPod.
Now when you're working with drones you can use on your your headset, but what I suggest
is that you put it over one ear and leave the
other ear open. That way your hearing the drone
through one ear and in your hearing your instrument through the other and you are able to make
your adjustments.
OK, so let's start some work with drones.
Well we are going to discover a few ways to use drones in this lesson that you can continue
to apply throughout your career.
I found them very helpful for me and my students and I think you will as well.
Obviously you can use drones as a way to tune a single pitch. For instance, if we are playing
exercises practicing stopping and starting pitches, you can put on the metronome and
practice that.
For instance, I have here an F [Fa].
I can just practice stopping and starting notes. Oh, this is in great exercise for just
practicing the in the low register on bassoon where we
tend to be so sharp.(But that's another matter.)
OK, you can set the drone for what we call the tonic, or the note name, the first note
of the scale or that the key signature. This is often
very helpful tuning. I have selected two studies for us
out of the Rubank method that illustrate how we could use drones and how I'd like you use
drones when you practice by yourself.
For instance, in this first study we have a B flat major chord so I have set the drone
to B flat for the tonic note.

The reason I like drones so much is that unlike a tuner that has a needle that moves around
(and with that needle you're making adjustments based on what your eye sees), with a drones
you have to tune with the ear.
It really is, after all, it is the ear that you are using when you play music not your
eye to tune your intonation. So this is a great way to
become very adept and very perceptive at how you play tune.
This time let me play again a B flat. I'm going to raise and lower the pitch a little
bit and see if you can hear when I'm in tune in at out of tune.

I started in tune and went up a little bit and then down little bit and then back in
tune. One way you can tell when something's out of tune
is that it oscillates and the notes seem to fight. When they
get into tune, they get closer, they fight less, and then suddenly it is like the waves
are just there just moving together, parallel.
So you need to listen to this and figure out what it means when you're in tune out of tune
and you can do that by playing a drone and moving up and
down the pitch a little bit to see where you match the tone.
You can also practice your scales, not just the arpeggios or chords on the bassoon, but
scales with the drone. For instance here's a B flat scale with the

I could hear that I was having a little bit of trouble perfectly matching that high B
flat That would be something I should work so that it is just
right there from the beginning of the note.
Now one of the issues with setting drones is to know which drone to set to. For instance,
let's look at the next example.
We have one flat in it. It starts on F [Fa]. Actually it is in the key of F major.
So one possibility is setting the drone for F. This is what it would sound like with F

That was helpful. I could adjust the pitch of several the notes there. However, one other
possibility-- because music often moves from what we call
a tonic chord to a dominant chord (and these are things
you may not yet heard [about] in music)--is to second the drone to what we call dominant
or the fifth scale degree.
A way for us to find that fifth scale degree is to figure out what is the note name of
the key signature or the tonic (in this case is F) and counting
up five notes. So counting up we have F, G, A, B flat, C.
C [Do] is the fifth note. So setting the drone for C often gives me more notes to tune or
more notes t hat fit the drone than might be the case for
F. Let meet try that top line again using the drone.

So you see with the C drone generally notes that are a third higher a fourth, even a fifth
higher are notes that you can easily tune within it.
It sounds a little bit complicated, it is not that complicated. It is
related to the way sounds work nature with what we call acoustics. But experiment with
different pitches, that's really the thing, listened to yourself.
Set it for the tonic or the note name and then try five steps
above it. Just experiment using the ear, helping yourself to play tune. I think you really
you advance your playing very rapidly.
After all you wouldn't go out in public without examining yourself and combing your hair.
Why would go perform in public without carefully examining
yourself using a tool of a metronome, and using the tool
of the drone so that you play better; so that you are at your best. So I encourage you to
use these two tools and adjust your playing. God bless.