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date: 19 November 2019

Logical bassoonlocked

  • William Waterhouse

Extract

An electrically operated version of the bassoon, invented in 1967 by Giles Skey Brindley (b Woking, Surrey, 30 April 1926), a British neurophysiologist, acoustician, and amateur musician. Brindley describes the instrument as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, having a bore that is square in section, folded twice for compactness, and with 17 tone-holes and 11 ‘speaker’ holes evenly spaced along its length; the pads are opened and closed electrically by means of a two-stage logical circuit operated from tabs under the player’s fingers. The first stage recognizes any ‘correct’ fingering, and the second stage matches a desired pattern of open and closed holes to the first-stage input. The invention, described as ‘a small computer’, replaces traditional bassoon fingerings with the inventor’s own system. It increases evenness of response, if at the cost of some loss of character. A heating wire running through the wooden tube regulates tuning and controls condensation. Brindley built four successive versions of the logical bassoon, one logical contrabassoon and one logical bass clarinet. Two later inventions of his, also designed as replacements for the bassoon, were reedless synthesizers activated by the player’s breath. Brindley played his instruments in amateur ensembles and demonstrated two of them on BBC radio and television programs, but none was put into production or adopted by other players. Brindley was knighted (GBE) for his work in bioengineering, including pioneering work on visual prosthetics and treatment of erectile dysfunction....

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Galpin Society Journal