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 Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: YourAverageBoy 
Date:   2006-08-21 13:29

I'm going to start Bassoon this year, and I've been playing Clarinet for awhile. Is it hard o go from Clarinet to Bassoon?

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2006-08-21 20:36

I think it is one of the easiest transitions. The fingering is not too terribly different in the lower and middle ranges (raise up the next finger and you have the next higher note), and you are already used to a woodwind-type embrochure. With a good teacher you should have no problem.

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: dummer musiker 
Date:   2006-08-30 00:45

I double in clarinet and bassoon. The transition takes work. The hardest part is the embrochure. The clarinet embrochure requires firmness. The bassoon embrochure requires relaxed muscles and flexibility. Its possible. And bassoon is a blast to play.

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: nickles8189 
Date:   2006-09-02 17:05

switching to bassoon off of any instrument is going to be hard, but coming from a single reed is better than anything else (switching brass players = bad idea). at least you won't be as intimidated by the crazy fingerings you'll come across (beware of the bottom and upper octaves, my friend). just find an easy-to-read fingering chart. otherwise you'll blow your brains out, lol.

i highly recommend the standard of excellence book series when learning a new instrument. they're great because they go over how to put the instrument together, how to position your hands, and embrouchure as well as have easy-to-read fingering charts. i taught myself out of those books on several different instruments, including bassoon, and i love raving about them. but then once you get past the first book or two of the series, then move into something more challenging. but since you do already play clarinet, it'll be a lot easier with those books because you don't have to worry about learning to read music (except switching to reading bass clef instead of treble, but it'll become second nature in no time).

keep up on clarinet! good luck!

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: Kchui999 
Date:   2006-09-17 17:39

I took home one of my school's bassoons the summer of my sophmore year in high school. What an awesome instrument!!! It took me a few weeks to get used to the embrochure, but once i could get some basic fingerings down, it was awesome. I dont think I'll get enough experience on bassoon to be a doubler, but it was just a great experience to try something new.


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 A vision on the bassoon Road To Damascus...
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2007-01-31 16:48

One neat little thing that I never realized before two nights ago was that (for the most part) the bassoon's "scale" duplicates the clarinet's scale (when considering the middle register (on the faggott) and the chalmeau register (on the clarinet). As I had never really learned to "read" bass clef on sight (relying instead upon a "push the button, monkey!" sort of system, where I associated a fingering with a position on the bass staff without knowing the note name), this was a major breakthrough.

(This is what happens when you learn how to play something without a teacher's help. The fingering chart that I used had the notes on the staff, but no note names anywhere. And, I have never really mastered the "read it down a space or line" system, try as I may. In effect, I was playing (and pretty well, I might add) "by ear", much as Steve Allen used to be able to play the clarinet without knowing jack about reading sheet music.)

So, there I was, sitting on the couch, watching my son facing me as he fiddled around with the horn (on which I am now getting back up to speed for an upcoming musical doubling job) as his lithe fingers were running through chromatic sales and intervals remembered from his bassoon playing days in middle school and the first year of high school. (Once he started playing hockey at a high level (he was semi-pro for a year), and concurrently ran into the "You've got to be in the marching band" stuff of high school, that was the end for bassoon playing.)

As he was fiddling around on the horn, I asked him to sound and hold an "A" for me so I could check the five or six reeds we had on hand against an electronic tuner. While he was holding the note out, I clearly "saw" for the first time the appearance of his fingers on the horn and it hit me like a ton of bricks: "Hey, that's just like the chalmeau on a clarinet!" Obvious as hell perhaps once you think about it, but it had never occurred to me before (probably because I didn't really associate the note names with the fingering without thinking about it and thus getting distracted from the finger position on the horn).

Sometimes, it's the little things that trip you up. It's one of those simple little tricks (like the bass clef reading of C parts on Eb horns, and the miraculous Eb to Bb and Bb to Eb transpositions that are enabled by the clarinet's cylindrical bore and register key systems) that have helped me out as much as any twenty books of scale and etude studies. You just have to find out about them...

Terry L. Stibal

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra

Post Edited (2007-01-31 16:50)

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2007-02-02 21:14


Could you explain what you mean by "the miraculous Eb to Bb and Bb to Eb transpositions that are enabled by the clarinet's cylindrical bore and register key systems"?

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2007-02-02 21:30


Always happy to oblige my friends and neighbors

...as Beadle Bamford used to say in Sweeney Tood

The Eb/Bb trick is something else that I stumbled upon while fussing around with a transposition problem back in my younger days. (I think that I was playing Reed 1 on a bandstration version of Threepenny Opera, and my alto was in the shop that night so I did everything on clarinet instead.)Since that time, I've also seen it discussed in the Stubbins book on clarinet playing, and mentioned elsewhere now and then.

Put simply, to play an Eb part on the Bb clarinet, play the part either up or down in either chalmeau or clarinet register and with or without the register key . So, A on the baritone part is played like A in the upper register on the bass clarinet, but without the register key, which automatically transposes it to D.

It works either way, up or down, and the only troublesome part is when you have to cross the break. Once you get used to it, it's like falling off a log.

I've used it for many, many years now, primarily to provide missing bass clarinet parts in big band arrangements where the original had bass but the publisher transfered it over to the baritone part, thinking that most groups don't carry a bass clarinet.

Pretty slick, huh? It's of limited utility, but you can certainly amaze your friends when you start making the shift with little or no effort. A musical parlor trick, if you will.

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra

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 Re: Clarinet to Bassoon
Author: ornithologist of the bands 
Date:   2008-04-23 16:50

okay. I did the exact same thing. Trust me, it's easier than you think. It will take a long time to get good tone quality(listen to bassoons on youtube to get an idea of good tone quality).

the clarinet only uses 9 fingers, however, the bassoon uses all 10.

Bassoonists have a higher chance of getting into a college for music because bassoonists aren't that common. In my oppinion, the bassoon is MUCH more fun than the clarinet.

Once you switch to bassoon, you'll get some boring parts sometimes. Every once in a while, you may get to play in the tenor or soprano range(the bassoon is capable of playing all four voices).

Once I started to play the bassoon, I fell in love with it. Right now, I'm the only bassoonist at school, and I'm proud of it.

Hope I helped,
Ornithologist of the Bands

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