Sound character of the Bassoon - Philipp Dangas

Register table of the bassoon

Bassoon register table graphic can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Sheet music for the register table of the bassoon

The sound of the bassoon in the hands of a good player is one of balanced, calm beauty. As a result of its structure, the bassoon lacks the characteristic piercing luster of the oboe. However, one of the main characteristics of the bassoon is its high ability to merge with almost all other instruments.

When performing thematic or contrapuntal tasks, the difference in sound between the bassoon and the oboe instruments must be taken into account. Extension of the oboe register in depth is only achievable through the use of English horn and heckelphone.

As part of the „symphonic world music“

The bassoon is one of the main instruments in the realization of the sound.

A sound file with an example of the bassoon sound [music by Shostakovich] Download size: 198 kilobytes
The registers and timbres of the bassoon
Register Sound Character Range (from – to)
highest register Sharp-sounding es 2 [two-line octave] —
f 1 [one-line octave]
high register Light sounding but intense. gis 1 [one-line octave] —
cis 1 [one-line octave]
middle register Matte and neutral. c 1 [middle octave] —
b [major octave]
lowest register Full-sounding and powerful. a [major octave] —
b [contra octave]

Dynamic effect of the bassoon

The graphic for the bassoon dynamic table can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Sheet music for the dynamic table from the bassoon

The following table shows the different degrees of musical dynamics. In addition to the sound pressure scale measured in decibels [dB], the degrees of strength of musical dynamics are given on the left, which can be understood as "objective" degrees.

One can clearly see a diagram, namely a diagram is drawn to the right of the dB scale. It shows the estimated dynamic effect over the entire tonal range of the instrument. The dynamic effect (volume) as judged (perceived) by the listener.

In the low register of the trumpet, for example, the dynamic range between pianissimo [pp] 46 decibels [dB] and fortissimo [ff] 82 decibels [dB] = 36 decibels [dB]. In the high register, the range is 8 decibels [dB]. The estimated values can deviate more or less from the "objective" ones.

Consequently, the deviations between the instruments are different. The mentioned "objective" levels of intensity piano pianissimo [ppp]= 40 decibels [dB], p=60 decibels [dB] etc. enable the composer to predict the dynamic effects of different instruments that are sounding simultaneously.

The achievable dynamic range of the bassoon is 23-26 decibels [dB]
Degree of intensity High position Low position
Fortissimo [ ff ] 85 78
Pianissimo [ pp ] 62 52