Mustafa Kemal Saydam’s bassoonquartet
Performers: Ozan Evruk, Elif Fulya Bilgin, Serkan Alagök, Mustafa Kemal Saydam
In the video from 4:00 Saydam’s quartet begins. Mustafa Kemal Saydam is bassoon player in Eskişehir city hall orchestra. In his quartet he uses bassoon’s specialities very well. At the 5:30 he uses unison bassoon with contrabassoon and it sounds a lot like stravinsky. From 6:00 we can see Mahler effect plain texture and bright solo on top of it.
In my opinion performance is good but tone colors are very different. That difference causes balance problems. Contrabassoon is a supplemantary intrument for bassoon quartets. The broad bass sound gains richer sound. 10.28 chromatic scale gives Korsakov affect to the piece. This pieceis written in symphonic perception. In some parts every bassoon refers to an other instrument such as; high note trills are sounding like flutes or middle register slow and dark solo sounds as English Horn.
Bach Partita in A Minor Bourrée Anglaise
I prefer this piece because in 2013 there will be a bassoon competition in Bursa – Turkey and this partita is obligatory piece. This partita was orginally written for flute. Johann Sebastian Bach often used the bourrée in his suites as one of the optional dance movements that come after thesarabande but before the gigue. The bourrée is also a ballet step consisting of a rapid movement of the feet. This A minor bourrée shows the quick feet moves feeling very clearly.
Artur Weisberg ‘s partita recording is the most appropriate recording I can find. I like the impetient feeling with the quick 16th notes. What I like the most is the tone of Weisberg it is mature and grainy and also his staccatos are exactly what I am trying to achieve. Short but not dry. Like small rubber ball bouncing on the marble surface. Articulations on the cadence are interpreted very well and professionally
What your reed needs?
How is it sounds?
These descriptions does not mean that you have to apply these recommends on every reed to each point. The thicknesses and boldnesses ratios are described depending on the average so it can be suitable.
If the part 15 is too thick (when you compare with the back edges it makes reed hard, especially in the low register. Than you should scratch here but be careful if you scratch too much from the point 15 you will loosen the reed. If you think your reed is naturally too thick than scratch all over the reed (8) but DO NOT touch the 4th era this is the hearth of the reed.
If your reed sounds too soft or sounds like “zurna” it mostly means you scratched from the part 4 too much. To save the reed try to squeeze the second ring (11) than a little bit first ring(10) from the sides (hold the reed parallel to floor). If it is not enough you can cut off the point 5 for 0,5-1,00 mm to make the heart (4) become closer to the rings.
If it is hard to play in low register:
If the reed does not reacts easily in the low register scratch the back era of the reed (3) but mostly the sides of the back (1) and it will make the reed freer. The middle should be thicker than the sides and it should be seen like a mountain when you look from one side. If that is not enough you can scratch a little bit from the corners (8) but be careful it will make high register easier also. If the reed is already easy to play in high registers scratching more from that corners will make you loose the strenght of the reed.
If it is hard to play in high register:
First look at the opening of the reed it it is too open than it makes the high notes harder to play so tighten the first ring (11). Than if the reed still sounds heavy in high notes try to scratch 2nd era but be careful too mach scratching from the corners (2) makes harder to play staccato.
BASSOON REED SCRATCHING
Bassoon players spend lots of time with reed making and especially reed scratching. But the results are not promisingly good all the time, till the performer gets used to make reeds. Performers want to spend min. time to gain good sounding results. To get good results player should know what will differ when which place of the reed was scratched. Unfortunately only knowledge is not enough players also have to gain experience by making mistakes.
In order to achieve the reeds in the way this fits to player, first thing that you should identify the reed.
You take measures to correct all of the problems in the order that they reveal themselves.
The first thing that reed needs before scratching is identifying the reed. It is important because if you know what is the problem with the reed than you will know what to do to which part. It is not good to stigmatizing the reed as “it is waste” because the worst or impossible cane can be turned out with a beautiful results. When you blow the reed you will feel that it is not OK. That good but important thing is to diagnose what is the problem. There can be more than one problem at the same reed and sometimes reed can be a just a mass. If there is only one problem it will be easier to handle. In example the reed may have problem with de “E” note in the second octave you should scratch the part which effects tonguing. But if there are more problems than one you should be more systematic in order to solve problems step by step. When you blow the reed you will understand in a second if the reed has dark sound, hard to blow, has too bright sound, hard to play high register or low register, too metallic sound etc. To reveal the problems truly you should not be inpatient. Scratch very few and play with it and do it over and over.
Bassoon Reed Cane – Arundo Donax
Bassoon reeds’ raw material called as Arundo Donax which grows in regions where soft water or lightly salty water has. Although there are many regions where cane (raw type of bassoon reed) can grow Mediterranean, Middle East, South America, Australia and India is the most sufficient places for cane. In Turkey most appropriate places are Aegean and Marmara region.
Arundo Donax is kind of legumes. It can easily be confused with the Bamboo plant but arundo donax have many different specialties which departs it from bamboo. As arundo donax grows its’ length can reach 4 to 6 meters. The body of the cane is hard but fragile. The outer surface of the cane contains epidermal cells which contains silicon that uses for glass production.
The ivy fibrous roots absorb the water and minerals from the earth. Foliage of the cane can grow from 5 to 8 cm and it has two layers. In the second year of growth body have some branches and in the same year the body part reaches from 2 to 7 mm thickness. As cane grows it turns from green to golden yellow. It approximately grows 0.7 per week, but this ratio can change according to the region, air conditions, earth type and humidity.
Cane can repair the shell of it self, when it gets hit or small cuts from the out side or damages resulting from the time, with the help of the silicon cells.
Growing Bassoon Cane
Arundo Donax is a highly resolute plant. It can grow in almost every kind of earth but the best type of area is where the moisture ratio is higher like lake sides, drains and rivers. Bassoon canes are also available to grow in subtropical areas (where the climate is cooler than tropical but still have the characteristics of tropical type) but growing level of the cane will not be enough.
The climatic characteristics of the region, soil structure, the area, watering, fertilization and harvesting at the right time plays an important role on canes’ quality. This plant germinates twice per year. First sprout, also known as the Male one, is more appropriate to modify for making bassoon reeds because of its’ non-porous and hard structure. After July cane gives the second sprout Female. This female cane is softer and porous. When they are compared male sprout grows slower than the female. In addition to this feature Male sprout is much more resistant to severe weather conditions such as frost and freeze.
Stravinsky Le Sacre Du Printemps
Solo by Gustavo Nunez with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
The Adoration of the Earth movement begins with this crucial bassoon solo. According to some researchers Stravinsky wrote this solo specifically for bassoon and specifically that high C. That 4th C is one of the most uneasy and closed sounded notes of bassoon and it is tend to have the wrong sound like a rooster. Some contemporary music researchers and conductors want that rooster sound for an instant than the C note because it represents the humanity (In my opinion they prefer this sound to being against perfectionism, no human being can be Godly perfect).
According to my tone color perception Gustavo Nunez has warmer tone but not darker. We can not criticize the tonguing flexibility of the reed because of the solo but in this recording Mr. Nunez also used a light reed which was scratched more than usual but he leaves the middle of the reed (the hearth) thicker. We can reach that result from the sound and legatos. Because of the right intonation I can say that he used thicker (especially the corners and the edge) reed than Mr. Vina.
Bassoon Reed Importance on Performance
For bassoon players reed can be a real friend or an enemy. If the reed is suitable according to the piece or comfortable player will have much more pleasure and perform more musical and soulful.
In some problematic situations for instance loosing intonation, uncontrolled tonguing (too harsh or rhythmically wrong), having just an air sound when performer wants to enter the note softly in low register or the awful moment that the performer can not play the high note but sounds like a choking whale.
This week I will show the reed difference and importance by using three videos. In these videos I prefer the most important and crucial orchestral solos.
1st Shostakovich Symphony no: 9Op.70
Solo by Carlos Felipe Vina with Lynn Philharmonic Orchestra
In my opinion the tone color of Mr. Vina is really good but I prefer warmer color. Tone color differs according to the mouth position and reed. If the reed was scratched too much from the corners and hearth, it loses its core. In this video in 0:18 B flat is too high and this intonation problem is caused through the reed. The reed is probably scratched too much from the very edge. But thinner reed helps performer to play higher octaves more freely and easier so I think Mr. Vina preferred this reed for that reason because this solo need to be comfortable in high register especially for the beginning. In 0, 39 and 1, 41 the reed should have lighter sound for legato F-D flat and G- D. But his reed is too light for the staccato part in 2, 58. So the staccatos are not sounding boned and powerful. Short enough but the sound is small and coreless.
2nd Stravinsky Le Sacre Du Printemps
Solo by Gustavo Nunez with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
The Adoration of the Earth movement begins with this crucial bassoon solo. According to some researchers Stravinsky wrote this solo specifically for bassoon and specifically that high C. That 4th C is one of the most uneasy and closed sounding notes of the bassoon and it tends to have “the wrong sound” like a rooster. Some contemporary music researchers and conductors want that rooster sound for an instant than the C note because it represents the humanity (In my opinion they prefer this sound to be against perfectionism, no human being can be Godly perfect!)
According to my tone color perception Gustavo Nunez has warmer tone but not darker. We can not criticize the tonguing flexibility of the reed because of the solo but in this recording Mr. Nunez also used a light reed which was scratched more than usual but he leaves the middle of the reed (the hearth) thicker. We can reach that result from the sound and legatos. Because of the right intonation I can say that he used a thicker (especially the corners and the edge) reed than Mr. Vina.