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Renard Oboes

330

333

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240

220

222

41

51

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800

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450

300

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601

660

201

101

I

II

III

IV

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500

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555

DEFINING THE BASSOON by Alan Fox

During the 20th Century, the bassoon has undergone a steady evolution in its performance characteristics, responding to long-term trends in the pitch of orchestras as well as to the demands of larger concert halls and the varying tastes of performers and audiences throughout the world.

In an effort to provide instruments with maximum characteristics of projection and flexibility, while meeting sophisticated standards for intonation, tone quality and resonance, we have reviewed (and in some cases, resurrected) many of the earlier methods, materials, and acoustical designs that are currently in use in professional orchestras. The results show up in five different woods employed in he manufacture of our instruments, each of which has been combined, experimentally, with most of the acoustical designs, the most interesting ones being offered as options to the appropriate models.

There are currently four acoustical variations in the design of Fox Bassoons. Each has a distinctive tone quality and each presents variations in the compromise between security and flexibility.

The oldest design is the "Long Bore". It is identified by a very warm "round" tone, evenly balanced, with excellent intonation throughout the entire range. It is the most secure design and its tone quality fits well into chamber music, as well as orchestral second bassoon parts. It is currently used to make Fox Models I, II, III and IV and Renard Models 220, 222, 41 and 51.

The most flexible design is the "Short Bore." It is characterized by a tone quality that is more "open" than the long bore. It is voiced to permit the performer to open up and "sing" in solo register and its tone quality lends itself to solo performance. Fox Models 101 and 201 and Renard Model 240 are "Short Bore" bassoons.

The demand for power by modern orchestras has prompted the designs of the two newest models. Both have thicker walls than their earlier counterparts, with longer, larger, more resonant tone holes. Their tone quality is bigger, yet slightly less concentrated than the short or long bore models. They are somewhat more work to play,but they deliver more power when pushed, yet easily handle soft attacks.

The Model 601 is the slightly longer version. It is slightly flatter and has a slightly warmer tone.

The Model 660 is slightly shorter, is pitched slightly higher and is a little more open. Both are designed to accommodate a wide range of mechanical options, with the player being encouraged to select those that are most appealing, including the type of wood.

Complimenting the designs are the five wood types:

• Mountain Maple (Berg Ahorn) from Yugoslavia is the most popular wood. It is of intermediate specific gravity and its warm tone quality places it comfortably in the middle of respected bassoon characteristics. Its main weakness is its relatively high cost, which limits its use to more expensive instruments. It is the standard for all of our professional models.

• Black Maple comes from North America, and derives its original reference in bassoon history to the experiments by Karl Almenrader in the early 1800's. It is heavier than Mountain Maple, resulting in stronger projection with slightly less flexibility. When combined with certain reeds and air columns, the tone quality can be quite lovely, and those who prefer it are usually first chair players.

• Big Leaf Maple is the lightest of the woods we use, resulting in the most flexible instruments. It is preferred for second chair orchestral parts because of the ease with which it blends with the other instruments.

• Red Maple is a less expensive cousin to Mountain Maple, having a slightly coarser grain, but similar performance characteristics.

• Sugar Maple is the most durable of the woods. It was the primary choice of our earlier professional instru- ments, and it still is used in models that are popular with public schools. Its tone quality is slightly brighter than the other woods, and it combines most favorably with the darker qualities of the long bore design. It has excellent projection but is somewhat less flexible than Mountain Maple.

Because of the many possible variations, and the difficulty in familiarizing oneself with all the options, we have selected specific woods that work well with each model. Where professional instruments are involved, however, we want you to be aware that these variations exist, and that we can usually arrange to have examples available to try 4 at the factory, with some advanced notice.

 

 
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Hollis and Germann Music
4136 Library Road (Route 88)
Stoner Centre
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
Phone: (412) 531-2781
Fax:: (412) 531-2782

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