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 BASSOONarama, Death of Contrabassoon
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2007-03-04 04:53

Spent day at Eastern Washington University Music School in Cheney, WA for the annual bassoonists' get-together. What a day! 45 bassonists -including 3 contras in attendance. Many professors, symphony players and retired symphony players. Large ensembles, small ensembles, intermediate and advanced programs --and a big, hour-long recital to top off the day.

No master's class this year, the big benefit for this clarinet playing bassoon lover, at last year's program.

BUT, this session introduced Luke Bakkan's new Guntram Wolf Contraforte.


This thing is a complete re-think of the tradtional contrabasson. Normally, the contra is just a (folded up) double sized bassoon --pitched 1-octave lower. A traditional contra has a rather small bore for its length. The Wolf is folded differently, and has a much bigger bore and larger tone-holes --allowing the instrument to project more sound, play louder and fill the space with sound. Luke's horn is number 13 of the series, one of only 3 in the USA --with a larger number in Australia, and most in europe.

Interestingly, Bakken bought this horn as his personal contra --to replace the one owned by his Symphony Orchestra --to get its benefits. It has improved intonation (the symphony instrument is about 1/2 step flat in the lower register) and much better projection. He demonstrated it in a duet with piano and showed it to be both powerful and subtle --playing down to pppp and swelling to a room-filling fff. Awesome.

He then played a duet with Lynne Feller-Marshall, the principal with the Spokane Symphony on a conventional instrument. The superiority of the contraforte was clear. Absolutely put the old horn in the shade.

I'm afraid that the mumbling old contrabassoon is dead, taken over by modern technology.

It even has a cable-operated whisper key and a felt-filled hole in the bottom of the first u-turn that collects and drains condensation into a little silver funnel that discretely deposits the wetness on the floor.

Listen for a Contraforte near you.

Bob Phillips

Post Edited (2007-03-04 15:55)

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 Topics Author  Date
 BASSOONarama, Death of Contrabassoon  new
Bob Phillips 2007-03-04 04:53 
 Re: BASSOONarama, Death of Contrabassoon  new
Terry Stibal 2007-03-04 23:17 
 Re: BASSOONarama, Death of Contrabassoon  new
Bob Phillips 2007-03-05 03:46 

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