Bassoon (Fr. basson; Ger. Fagott; It. fagotto)
- William Waterhouse
(Fr. basson; Ger. Fagott; It. fagotto)
A wooden conical wind instrument, sounded with a double reed, which forms the tenor and bass to the woodwind section. In the modern orchestra, the family exists in two different sizes: the bassoon and the double bassoon or contrabassoon, sounding one octave lower. Built in four joints, its precursor the dulcian was of one-piece construction. Because of its wide compass and its range of characteristic tone-colours, from richly sonorous at the bottom to expressively plaintive at the top, it is one of the most versatile and useful members of the orchestra. Certain design features are peculiar to it: the doubling back on itself of the bore, like a hairpin; the ‘extension bore’ beyond the sixth finger-hole; and local wall thickness allowing for finger-hole chimneys. These features give the instrument its essential tone qualities and condition its complex acoustics. The standard compass of the present-day bassoon is from B♭′ to ...