Monday, February 20, 2017

Baroque Bassoon Reeds @ Bassoons.ch

Over the last few months I have been preparing my new reed making website, Bassoons.ch. Much work has been done, and there's plenty more still to go. However, I'm comfortable now to announce that I am open for business selling bassoon reeds for various models of instruments including Modern, Baroque, and Classical. 

As a professional bassoonist, I have been very frustrated with both the quality and the design of cane for historical instruments which is readily available on the market. Some of the most common distributors supply cane with hardly any accuracy in the gouge (sometimes +/- 0.2mm), or a profile thickness which guarantees that there will be hours of more work whittling once the reed is formed (both of these problems often exist in conjunction, in my experience).

After meeting machinist Greg James at BVBD 2015 and seeing his side edge clamping gouging machine, I learned that bringing precision gouging to market was possible. Greg's machine delivers cane consistently with an accuracy of +/- 0.01mm, an incredible figure! While my machine is only weeks away from arriving, I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation of the improvement I will see in my own reeds. 

Furthermore, as I have often felt that time fiddling with reeds takes away from my own practice time I profile my cane much closer to its finished dimensions than what you find on the market today. That means I have to have more profiles to accommodate different historical instruments, and I think everyone would appreciate having an almost finished reed simply after cutting the tip off.

While here in Basel I have been fortunate enough to work with numerous instruments by Peter de Koningh and Pau Orriols, allowing me to make reed models for specific copies (or specific Grenser bassoon/bocal combinations). Soon to come are reeds for Wolf instruments. If you're interested in what shapes and profiles I generally work with, you can take a look here: bassoons.ch/about.

As usual, I'm always up for a challenge, so if you have an instrument which I might not have a model for don't hesitate to get in contact with me either through The Heckeler, or bassoons.ch. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

When it Comes to Bocals, Length Matters!

Since the middle of 2015 I've been working relatively frequently on a Grenser bassoon. This instrument, to the uninitiated, is likely the most common instrument in use today to perform music from about the 1770s to the 1830s. While there are copies out there of other instruments from the same time period, the original Saxon instruments stamped Grenser or Grenser/Wiesner which survive exist in large numbers and consistently display good craftsmanship. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the bassoons from Grenser's workshop were used widely by the early 19th century leaving no doubt that the instrument's popularity today is warranted.

Unfortunately, while many originals exist in fine condition they suffer from the same symptoms which have marred the instrument copying process of older bassoons: only very few survive with an original bocal. In fact, I know of only one Grenser/Wiesner instrument which does: that of my former teacher, Donna Agrell. Donna's instrument came to her not only with two original bocals, but with six original reeds! Although I could write more about it here, she has recently completed her Ph.D thesis which contains a detailed description of the instrument as well as its first owner, so I highly encourage those who are interested in learning more to seek it out.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Something Special

For those of you getting into the Christmas spirit, I present the most important video you'll watch all day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

264 Year Old Advice Rings True Today

With the stress level lower since securing a place within Switzerland for the next few years, I've committed myself to doing more regular reading on the topic of early music. The first first batch of books arriving in my mailbox this week contains J.J. Quantz's classic, On Playing the Flute (a translated version by Edward R. Reilly). While I have read numerous selections from the book before, I thought it would be a good time to go through it from the beginning to get a better overall view of the work. Funnily enough, it begins with an striking introduction: Of the Qualities Required of Those who Would Dedicate Themselves to Music.

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