Aerophones of the oboe, wood family and tenor and bass types, the bassoon and contrabassoon are wind instruments of double reed heteroglotte fixed by metal tudel and curved conical body, maple or other hardwood, in four components: tenor joint (or small branch), low joint (or large branch), breech and bell (or pavilion). The wide and long cane reed is fixed by a small receptacle at the lower end of a hook-shaped tudel, in turn inserted into the upper end of the tenor joint. A semicircular metal junction at the bottom of the bolt joins the base of the tenor and bass joints. At the body of the instrument (at the tenor and bass joints and the cylinder head) a complex system of keys is applied, which allows the opening and closing of the holes, which acoustically calculated, are excavated at distances greater than those of the fingers and the human hand. In the conical bell, the tube increases in diameter from the lower section to the intermediate section, gradually converging towards the upper part and finally widening at the top, surmounted by a ring which serves as protection and decoration. The modern bassoon comes from a set of significant morphological improvements to double bass reed instruments of serious register, which had been created and extensively used in the Renaissance, seeking to compensate for the lesser agility of the sackbut (predecessor of the trombone), the low intensity sound of the bass recorder and the handling and portability of the blowtorch (predecessor of the oboe) serious. The douçaine and cromorne were built in a single block of wood, excavated vertically and horizontally (two to nine times) to multiply the length of the tube; in their turn, the (six) holes were, in the majority, excavated diagonally – the upper ones diagonally ascending; the inferior diagonally descending – a particular method that guaranteed the execution of the instrument. The instrument of the late seventeenth century described by Zacconi in Prattica de Musica (1592), built in one piece of wood, contained six holes and two open keys, protected by fontanelles. The model of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, built in two sections, called bassoon (in Portuguese, baixão), was developed since 1680 by the family of Parisian builders Hotteterre, which is attributed the addition of a third key , and then by Nuremberg manufacturer Denner. In the eighteenth century, the instrument was equipped with the fourth, fifth and sixth keys and registry key, mounted in protuberances. Although Cugnier proved, in 1780, the execution potential in the acute register of a model of five keys without a registry key, the adoption of such keys would prevail in the following centuries. (The current designation, bassoon – of the Italian fagotto, “batch of sticks or wood”, concerning the construction of the instrument in various components – was gradually adopted during this period in Portugal.)
Among the different morphological innovations of the bassoon developed in the nineteenth century, stands out the increase in the diameter of the tube and the bell; the adoption of closed keys for the grave register and the creation of the U-shaped metal vault by Simiot de Lyons; the application of bearings in the keys and the replacement of the replacement body by close joints, initiated by Savary and Adler. As a result of cooperation with acoustics specialist Gottfried Weber and work with constructor JA Heckel, interpreter-builder Carl Almenraeder developed, between 1817 and 1836, a 17-key instrument with a chromatic range of four octaves , commonly known as the Heckel bassoon or German model, and which predominates among the currently used bassoon models. The Belgian builders Sax developed the construction of metal bassoons, and in 1851 Adolphe Sax patented a metal model with 24 keys. Ward and Tamplini, Triébert and Marzoli, Haseneier and Kruspe have taken into account the key system of the flute and the study of the orifice size of the bassoon of Theobald Boehm, but the production costs, the complexity of the digitation and the characteristic bassoon sound loss in such models has limited its commercial success. From the collaboration of the teacher-interpreter Jancourt and the builders Triébert, Gautrot and Buffet-Crampon resulted, in 1879, in the production of a 22 keys instrument which, for their potential, was affirmed as the predominant French model ( or Buffet model).
W. Waterhouse, “Bassoon” in S. Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol.2, pp. 177-190, Macmillan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Patrícia Costa, O fagote em Portugal. Descrição das suas práticas na actualidade, Dissertação de Mestrado, Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, 2012.