LMC Monday: Five Elements of Beautiful Tone Production

Exploration Questions

  1. What are the five elements of beautiful tone production on the bassoon?

  2. What is the difference between air pressure and volume?

  3. What is the bocalphone?

  4. What elements affect pitch and how can we combine them to play in tune?

On the first day of LMC 2019 we discussed the 5 Elements of Beautiful Tone Production and how we can practice them individually to improve our tone and intonation.

Breathing: how we inhale and prepare to play

  • Relax shoulders and jaw, breathe calmly and deeply through the mouth

  • Breathe in a way that complements the music, create space to breathe

  • Anchor the reed one one lip to create a stable foundation and reset faster

  • Breathing exercises can slow your heart rate and reduce anxiety!

  • Exercise: Set metronome to 72, Do each line twice (In/Out)

    • 3 6

    • 4 8

    • 5 10

    • 6 12

    • 3 15

Embouchure: how we connect our lips to the reed

  • Avoid north south pressure on the reed, use more east-west pressure. Squeezing the reed closes the tip, raises the pitch and makes your sound thin.

  • Lips are round, corners firm

  • Exercise: Play F on the Reed, Play C or C# on the Bocal with the tuner.

Support: pressurizing the air in a way that works for the register in which you are playing

  • Pressure = air speed, how fast is the air

  • Volume = air quantity, how much air

  • Low notes use big, slow, warm air

  • High notes use small, fast, cold air

  • Exercise: Play C# on the bocal, relax jaw and drop to C, use air to raise it up to C# again

Vowel: the shape of the inside of your mouth

  • "OO" -focused and "OH" - open are great for most notes

  • Use "EE" if you need to raise the pitch and faster air isn't enough

  • Use "AH" or "OH" to lower the pitch and for low notes

  • Changing the vowel can change the response and intonation of a note

Fingerings: the combinations of keys and fingers we use

  • Select fingerings that match other notes well, play in tune and work with your music

  • Use a good fingering chart

  • Half Hole G: Always use the resonance key!

  • E-flat: use the "long" fingering with left and right hands

  • A-flat/F-sharp: can be played with pinkies or thumbs. I typically use thumb for low F-sharp and pinky for half hole F-sharp but this depends on the notes around it. I always use pinky A-flat.