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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I described several similar "piano-like" systems for the bassoon, where one finger plays each note on register 2 and above
Introduction - System A - Correction and system B - Systems C, D, E, F
(The system A doesn't "misuse lone holes" for the throat notes, that's obsolete. It has special keys like the system B.)

These systems shall play all tonalities with ease, help high notes with several efficient lone holes opened at perfect positions, and open all main holes below the main closed-to-open transition for every note for uniform ease, timbre and intonation. Promising!

I'm worried that a finger shall press several touchpieces in a line. It seemingly demands to play with straight fingers, which isn't quite healthy and is sensitive to the hand position. But here are solutions, hopefully.

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Fingertips can play the system A, where a separate touchpiece opens lone holes at 2:4 and 3:4 positions, as corrected on Jan 18, 2020.
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The curved finger can press touchpieces in a line if their heights make a curve. This applies to system B and could extend to C, D, E, F. Better with the main touchpieces near the palm and the lone ones far on both hands.
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The common touchpiece opening both lone holes at 2:4 and 3:4 positions in system A extends to C and D to achieve the systems C2, D2 and CD2 that the fingertips play easily.
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C2 adds 5:6 touchpieces that open one more lone hole for registers 6 and 12. D2 adds 7:8 touchpieces for register 8. CD2 does both.

Experiments shall tell what register the bassoon reaches with many lone holes opened at optimum positions, and how many touchpieces make sense. Present bassoons open about 2 lone hole equivalents that are ill-placed and inefficient, so my systems should improve. Register 12 would reach as high as the oboe to octaviate the Sacre or play cello notes with 4.5 octaves range. To experiment, other fingers can open more lone holes.

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The systems A, C2, D2, CD2 would excel at the soprito, a sopranino reed instrument, with long bore for stable intonation and mellow sound, that would start at register 2 like a trumpet does
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Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy
 

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How much time do you spend dreaming up these goofy ideas? It amazes me.

So present bassoon holes are ill-placed and inefficient? And after 200 years of experimentation, development, rejection and acceptance, you're going to upend all the work of Heckel, Allmanrader and a host of others? Are you aware that there is still not a good explanation of how the acoustics of a bassoon works and why it sounds the day it does? Those ill-placed holes are ill-placed for a reason: the opening inside the bassoon is often at an angle through the wood to the outside - the chimney. Sometimes they are on opposite sides of the wall. It's all part of what gives a bassoon it's unique sound. It's why a contrabassoon really doesn't sound like a bassoon - the tone holes are all directly over the inside openings much more like a clarinet. I recall seeing a picture of a bassoon played with a standard piano-like keyboard; another failed experiment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi mbhaub, thanks for your usual enthusiasm!

Yes, I'm willing to throw to the garbage bin 200 years of tiny evolution steps of a bad instrument, because this has lead nowhere. The two present bassoon systems are so bad that the instrument needs a tabula rasa, much like the already old baroque flute needed one and the flute still exists thanks to Boehm.

I won't wait until academic research knows why the present bassoons are bad before I try to improve them. Once a better system works, who cares why the old one was bad.

I put much time in the bassoon system because it's worth it.

I don't necessarily want short tone holes, and certainly not wide ones. But the bassoon doesn't even have a tone hole for each note (Eb). Holes closed below the main transition botch the bassoon's operation. That's one thing Boehm improved on the flute, and it's independent of the wide tone holes.

The ill-placed holes I mentioned are the register holes. Each one serves for 3-4 notes, so they can't be efficient, and they pull the intonation. Neither are the tone holes at adequate positions when they serve for cross-fingerings at high notes, because they serve several uses, and because some are short (C#) and others are long (D, E, F...). Separating the functions will improve that.

"Old" looks like a synonym of "good" for you. No problem with that. Other bassoonists will adopt a better instrument. And if too few bassoonists do, then plenty of clarinettists and flutists and pianists would happily play the bassoon if only the instrument worked properly. A luthier can live from a small proportion among the musicians switching to the new instrument, like Heckel did at the beginning: it doesn't need all bassoonists to switch at once.
 

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mbhaub was/is a bassoonist at a professional level, I believe... if anyone here really knows the bassoon through and through, it would be him. The burden of proof is on you, to show that it is worth abandoning well-known designs for manifest improvements. Change does happen, but consider Daniel Barenboim's straight-strung piano: sure it's cool, and maybe better, but it hasn't taken off. And is it really any better, anyway? The advantage of "old" is that it is already established, and we know how to play everything from Beethoven to Stravinsky and beyond with the existing designs.

Anyway, like I've stated on previous threads and as you indicate in your original post, the proof will be in a functioning prototype, because we need to hear these things (and an instrumentalist needs to judge how it feels and behaves) before an informed judgement call can be made.
 

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There have been attempts to "improve" instruments. There was the Mazzeo Clarinet system thaSelmer promoted for a while; but clarinetists saw no real improvement or value in it. More recently, the late Arthur Weisberg created a mechanism for the bassoon that would make flicking unnecessary and supposedly prevent cracking certain notes. It does work, but since he died i don't hear much about it anymore. Besides, most of us got along just fine without it. Arlen Fast worked with Fox Bassoons to improve the high range of the contrabassoon by trial and error changing the position of certain vent keys. They came to the realization that the contra was a seriously flawed design. So much so that Guntram Wolf in Germany created the Contraforte, which DOES have much more logical fingerings and plays well in tune - which no contra can by itself. But the instrument remains a curiosity as most conductors do not like the sound; it is different. Saxophones have been surprisingly left alone with little done to change them, and the trombones too. Frankly anyone who tries to re-invent instruments is running a fool's errand. The social momentum to continue to use the traditional instruments and learning materials is too strong to counter. It'd be like trying to create new whiz-bang operating system to take over the computer industry. It ain't gonna happen. Windows and to a much lesser extent Apple OS and LInux are so entrenched they will never go away. People will not change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Monsalvat, thanks for your interest!
mbhaub was/is a bassoonist at a professional level
I'm a bassoonist too. I won't be a professional as I started too late and have a different profession. Having played the violin, the piano, the saxophone, the flute, the tuba before the bassoon gives me the experience to comment about the bassoon. The bassoon is catastrophic and badly needs improvement.
consider Daniel Barenboim's straight-strung piano: sure it's cool, and maybe better, but it hasn't taken off.
Err, it's the opposite. Pianos were straight-strung in the past. Cross-strung was an improvement that did establish itself as a standard because it works better. Thanks for that example.
the proof will be in a functioning prototype
Sure. If a bassoon manufacturer wants to develop it, I'll be happy to work there. Or he can do it without me, that's why I put (most of) my ideas on the Web.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Arthur Weisberg created a mechanism for the bassoon that would make flicking unnecessary and supposedly prevent cracking certain notes.
Thanks! It seems to be a minor modification of the few register keys, compatible with existing instruments and fingerings.
kipdf.com - wikipedia
Would you have a more detailed description?
Besides, most of us got along just fine without it.
I do disagree. The flute can play Prokofiev's sonata op94. The violin, easily (Proko added difficulty in the violin's version). The soprano or bass clarinet, sure. The bassoon can't because both existing systems are atrocious. Composers are wary of the instrument and warned against it, they refrain from writing difficult music. Musicians keep away from it because it's difficult. I don't call that "just fine". I say the bassoon is in obvious need of improvement.
the contrabassoon is a seriously flawed design. So much so that Guntram Wolf in Germany created the Contraforte, which DOES have much more logical fingerings and plays well in tune - which no contra can by itself. But the instrument remains a curiosity as most conductors do not like the sound; it is different.
I hereby encourage composers and arrangers to recommend "contraforte or contrabassoon" in their scores if they accept the somewhat different (it's not worse) sound. At least, the contraforte contributes with more power to the orchestra. And: write for the contrabass clarinet, it works way better (but doesn't replace a contrabassoon).

I proposed a rackett-shaped contrabassoon
talkclassical
whose walls enable longer tone holes. Whether this improves the sound? Until I experiment it's a mere hypothesis.
Saxophones have been surprisingly left alone with little done to change them
Saxophones are younger than the Boehm flute so they didn't go through this change. And though, they got wider tone holes (alas), a low Bb and for the baritone a low A, more palm keys, a F#-G# coupling, a (debatable) automatic octave key. Presently we play up to F# on the second octave while Sax used the third register with cross-fingerings and the lower speaker key, so musicians have adopted new fingerings meanwhile. That's not little.
The social momentum to continue to use the traditional instruments and learning materials is too strong to counter.
All instruments we use presently result from strong changes, including your bassoon with German system which demanded to re-learn.

And what about the harp? After 5 millennia it had achieved a high degree of perfection. Then came Jakob Hochbrucker and Sébastien Erard with pedals. This needed new learning. Meanwhile the double-action pedal harp is the ultra-dominant harp in orchestras.
It'd be like trying to create new whiz-bang operating system [...] Windows and to a much lesser extent Apple OS and Linux are so entrenched they will never go away.
Thanks for that example! I learned to use computers before Windows, Apple and Linux existed. Microsoft has nearly abandoned Windows. Users switch from Windows to Linux.
 

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Just about that piano... Barenboim presented it as an improvement, since it emphasizes differences between the registers. I haven't actually heard it, in recording or in concert, so I cannot say more. Daniel Barenboim designs 'radical' new piano Seems possible that it's an improvement in some ways, but not in others... design is often about compromises and trade-offs.

As I've never played the bassoon, I can't comment more on the substance of this thread.
 

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Thanks! It seems to be a minor modification of the few register keys, compatible with existing instruments and fingerings.
kipdf.com - wikipedia
Would you have a more detailed description?

I do disagree. The flute can play Prokofiev's sonata op94. The violin, easily (Proko added difficulty in the violin's version). The soprano or bass clarinet, sure. The bassoon can't because both existing systems are atrocious. Composers are wary of the instrument and warned against it, they refrain from writing difficult music. Musicians keep away from it because it's difficult. I don't call that "just fine". I say the bassoon is in obvious need of improvement.

I hereby encourage composers and arrangers to recommend "contraforte or contrabassoon" in their scores if they accept the somewhat different (it's not worse) sound. At least, the contraforte contributes with more power to the orchestra. And: write for the contrabass clarinet, it works way better (but doesn't replace a contrabassoon).

I proposed a rackett-shaped contrabassoon
talkclassical
whose walls enable longer tone holes. Whether this improves the sound? Until I experiment it's a mere hypothesis.

Saxophones are younger than the Boehm flute so they didn't go through this change. And though, they got wider tone holes (alas), a low Bb and for the baritone a low A, more palm keys, a F#-G# coupling, a (debatable) automatic octave key. Presently we play up to F# on the second octave while Sax used the third register with cross-fingerings and the lower speaker key, so musicians have adopted new fingerings meanwhile. That's not little.

All instruments we use presently result from strong changes, including your bassoon with German system which demanded to re-learn.

And what about the harp? After 5 millennia it had achieved a high degree of perfection. Then came Jakob Hochbrucker and Sébastien Erard with pedals. This needed new learning. Meanwhile the double-action pedal harp is the ultra-dominant harp in orchestras.

Thanks for that example! I learned to use computers before Windows, Apple and Linux existed. Microsoft has nearly abandoned Windows. Users switch from Windows to Linux.
I don't even know where to begin,,,musicians do not keep away from the bassoon because it's difficut. They stay away because they're expensive. Even so-called student model is around $10,000 nowadays. Playing bassoon has its challenges to be sure, but then every instrument worth playing does, too. And I still cannot accept that you think the two bassoon systems are "atrocious". There are so many players out there who do quite well on it.

Composers are "wary" of the bassoon? Warned against it? What are you talking about? The bassoon is one of the most flexible and useful of orchestral instruments and composers have pushed it to extremes knowing that players will find a way to make it work. Yes, there are some idiots who write parts that are virtually unplayable, but the great composers - never. They wrote great bassoon parts. The only weakness in the bassoon is it isn't capable of real volume and can easily get covered. Many composers and conductors double the size of the section to make up for it. Some bassoon makers (Fox, eg) have spent years trying out new materials, bore sizes, key hole sizes and other things to increase projection.

There are works - virtually unknown - written for and essentially requiring a Contraforte. And they don't get played. There are vew few Contrafortes out there; they are really expensive, hard to get, and will never replace the contrabassoon.

The use of clainets lower than the bass models: there are a few works out there calling for them. Film scoring uses contralto frequently. Lucien Cailliet, the expert on low clarinets, for all his wonderful scoring for Ormandy didn't include them in the orchestra - they weren't necessary. Tell that to Bernard Herrmann.

Microsoft has abandoned Windows? Really? It's their flagship product that runs 95% of the world's computers. I know no one, not a single person who uses Linux. Lots of Apple users. But the operating system wars are over and Windows is the clear winner, for better or worse, like it or not.
 

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Microsoft has abandoned Windows? Really? It's their flagship product that runs 95% of the world's computers. I know no one, not a single person who uses Linux. Lots of Apple users. But the operating system wars are over and Windows is the clear winner, for better or worse, like it or not.
You should have asked me (and a number of other TC users) before making such a sweeping and incorrect statement.
 

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Composers are "wary" of the bassoon? Warned against it? What are you talking about? The bassoon is one of the most flexible and useful of orchestral instruments and composers have pushed it to extremes knowing that players will find a way to make it work. Yes, there are some idiots who write parts that are virtually unplayable, but the great composers - never. They wrote great bassoon parts. The only weakness in the bassoon is it isn't capable of real volume and can easily get covered.
Since you are speaking on the subject of bassoons (about which I know virtually nothing), I am curious what you think about the bassoon parts in Jan Dismas Zelenka's Trio Sonatas. Apparently he himself was a bassoonist (bassoon player?). They sound great but also sound as if they might be fiendishly difficult to play. For me the pairing of bassoons with oboes always has a wonderful sound. Another favorite composer, Charles Koechlin, seems to have written a good deal for the bassoon, but I have not heard any of those works.
 

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But it's a regression by a century.
I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that Barenboim asserted that the straight-strung design had certain benefits which the modern design lacks, particularly with regard to the distinctions between the low, mid, and high registers. The modern design seeks to create a seamless transition between all registers, so that everything is uniform. Barenboim isn't the only one who has pointed this out; András Schiff has also commented on how the music of Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms, benefits from an instrument with distinct registers, so he played the Diabelli variations on an 1820 Brodmann fortepiano and a 1921 Bechstein piano (and the two Brahms concertos on an 1859 Blüthner piano).

People are buying LPs again, even though the technology was superseded decades ago by CD, SACD, Blu-Ray, and high-res downloads. Some audiophiles are even going back to vacuum tube amps. It's regression, but it has benefits (at least for them). It's become fashionable, some people are drawn to the warmer sound, and it arguably makes for a better experience since it encourages you to focus and listen to the whole album in one sitting. So even though it's obsolete technology, it still has advantages for some people. And I still maintain that design is about making the right compromises; progress in one area might lead to drawbacks in another.

Oh and before I hit "Post," another example came to mind: European rotary trumpets vs. American piston trumpets. The piston trumpets are more precise with intonation and can be pushed farther technically, but rotary trumpets are still broadly used in European orchestras because they are more lyrical/musical. Even though some notes rely on use of the water key for secure intonation/slotting, which would seem to be a major design drawback, the rotary trumpet probably isn't going anywhere. This is an interesting example because the two competing designs are still both in use currently. It's an example where an arguably superior technology (piston) hasn't decisively won over the rotary technology because of the musical advantages which would be given up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
[...] Musicians do not keep away from the bassoon because it's difficult. They stay away because they're expensive.
True, too expensive. But I knew several excellent clarinettists fascinated by the bassoon who won't learn it because the fingerings are horrible.

They (and the flutists and pianists) could be the real customers for an easier bassoon. Some bassoonists are logically reluctant to learn a new system. Other will make the hard effort, but how many? On an other forum, 3 bassoonists relied "no" and 1 "If better, quite possible" (plus me, I don't count). Other hint: many French bassoonists switch to the German system, a bigger effort than learning a simple system, just to get the louder sound and less unstable intonation.

If only 1 bassoonist in 10 plays the proposed system within a lifetime, it's a huge commercial success. But maybe clarinettists or pianists will be the main customers. Klaus Thunemann, Alexandre Silverio, Lola Descours... All were pianists. Besides the attractiveness of the bassoon, pianists find no job while bassoonists do.
Playing bassoon has its challenges to be sure, but then every instrument worth playing does, too. And I still cannot accept that you think the two bassoon systems are "atrocious". There are so many players out there who do quite well on it.
I 100% disagree on that. Here my experience with other instruments lets me know. No bassoonist can play the difficult music written for the clarinet, not even for the flute. When a bassoon plays a piece as easy as Hora staccato we comment "miracle", while on the clarinet it's banal. This results from the bassoon's botched fingerings.
Composers are "wary" of the bassoon? Warned against it? What are you talking about? The bassoon is one of the most flexible and useful of orchestral instruments and composers have pushed it to extremes knowing that players will find a way to make it work [...]
The bassoon is extremely useful and has some nice music, but it's technical possibilities lag very far behind other woodwinds. That's why the bassoon is worth improving. Because i like the instrument.
 
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