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 oboe vs bassoon
Author: woodwindfreak 
Date:   2008-10-04 03:24

I'm trying to learn oboe but am thinking I might switch to bassoon-
are the 'reed issues' and embouchure considerably easier on bassoon?
I guess some would say anything's easy compared to oboe,
but I'm wondering if overall the bassoon would be a better experience.

my problems with oboe are:

you hold tons of compressed air, your face turns red
and basically it seems there's no comfortable way to play oboe
and get a good tone - is bassoon a lot better in the 'comfort'

with oboe the reeds are SO unreliable - you just look at a reed
wrong and it will let you down - I don't like having to
deal with that kind of inconsistency - seems you can't totally
rely on any given oboe reed.
How is this situation with bassoon?

ok, so there are clearly some disadvantages to oboe -
so, what about the pros of oboe playing-

I would say:
- more solo material
- better solo material
- easier to put together/take apart
- doesn't have the 'class clown' stigma that bassoon has -
maybe in some ways gets a little more respect than bassoon
(notice I said 'little')
- easier to play fast melodies
- easier fingerings

well, this is my oboe vs bassoon quandary -
clearly they're both difficult instruments but I'm
hooked on double reeds, so there you have it:)

anyone have thoughts on these things?

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 Re: oboe vs bassoon
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2008-10-06 13:19

I think your instinct is correct: bassoon is worlds easier than oboe in terms of embouchure and breath support. Both are much more forgiving on the big horn.

Reeds still tend to be a problem, but much less so than on oboe.

You do need to learn bass and tenor clefs for bassoon. But the fingerings in the mid-range aren't that complex; it's not until you get down low or up there that they need some rote practice. But it's like anything--the more you do it, the less difficult it becomes.

Oboe has a whole range of issues that only a teacher can tell you about--how to breathe, how to exhale, how to think about your fingers... it's amazing how much thought goes into playing a single note.

I've never thought of bassoon as the class clown--I do recall a musicologist calling it "the clown of the orchestra." But just as it can sound playful and frisky, it can sound beautiful and sonorous or melancholic and tragic.

As far as which instrument to learn, it depends on what your goals are. If you want to play in a group, everybody is going to need you, whether you play oboe or bassoon. If you're not going to take lessons and just want to mess around, bassoon is your better bet, because no one wants to play with an amatuerish-sounding oboe player--and I would say that it's not possible to play oboe properly without lessons from a real oboist. If you do plan to take lessons, then either horn will do you well.

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 Re: oboe vs bassoon
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2008-10-07 01:06

I agree with most of what Jaysne has said. Bassoon reeds are not quite as finicky as oboe reeds, but they are still a double reed and as such can make you crazy.

If lugging around 20 pounds worth of stuff is going to bother you, then stick to oboe. You can shove it in your backpack and go. Also flying these days is much more problematic with a bassoon than an oboe. Also, oboes do get much more interesting stuff to play, whether in band or orchestra.

Having said all that, I'm a bassoonist and wouldn't like to switch, but that's a personal thing.

As far as the breathing thing is concerned, some oboists learn to breathe out at the end of one phrase, then breathe in at the end of the next. That works sometimes...........

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 Re: oboe vs bassoon
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2008-10-09 12:50

Yep, breathing is a much more involved process on oboe than bassoon. Most wind players just have to inhale every few bars or so; on oboe, you often feel the urge to exhale, to expel stale air, before it's necessary to breathe in again. So it's a new skill you have to develop and hone--coordinating the breathing in vs. breathing out.

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