The Bassoon – Funny But Beautiful Sound

So, the bassoon…  An instrument that a bit like the Cor Anglais tends to make people laugh rather than listen to seriously.   This is a pity, as in fact it is an instrument that has considerable gravitas when needed as I hope to show you here.

What is a Bassoon?

Lets get this out of the way first, so we know what it is I am talking about.  A definition of the bassoon would be as follows…….

The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor clefs, and occasionally the treble.    The bassoon is a non-transposing instrument known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, variety of character and agility. Listeners often compare its warm, dark, reedy timbre to that of a male baritone voice. Someone who plays the bassoon is called a bassoonist.


So now you know what it is at least, now lets have a listen to what it actually sounds like to start us on our way.

That tiny extract from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, being Grandfather’s theme, gives a pretty good idea of the sound of this rather pleasing instrument.  And as you can hear, nothing intrinsically funny about it either.

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The Tuba – The Gentleman Of Instruments.

While I was friends with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band many years ago, I purchased Vivian Stanshall’s Tuba from him as he wanted to buy a Sousaphone as he felt it had more character than his Tuba, and I was tired of playing a trumpet.  I still have it with me – it has followed me from country to country as I have moved around the world, and whilst I no longer play it in any sort of a band, I do enjoy the occasional “Hurumph” through it.

I disagreed with him strongly about the Sousaphone having more character than a tuba, whatever that might mean, as I consider the tuba to be one of the Grand Old Men of musical instruments – the other being the double bass of course.

So with this in mind, as I was wandering the dark and dusty corridors of Youtube the other day, hunting for weird and wonderful instruments, I obviously came across a lot of tuba players, both serious and funny – all of which I duly noted down, with a view to sharing some of them with you here in due course.

And I feel that perhaps that moment might well have arrived, so without any more ado, here are some splendid examples of people taming the tuba for your amusement and pleasure.

When one thinks of the tuba, one’s mind goes straight to that wonderful English eccentric, Gerard Hoffnung, who made the tuba his own in a number of ways, both by playing them, and by his cartoons of them.   So to start us off, here he is.

This is a quartet of tubas giving us their version of a piece by Chopin…. Such delicacy of touch and emotion…

This wonderful performance shows clearly what a subtle and gentle instrument the tuba really is.  A sort of loving Grandfather of an instrument.  Capable of being both smooth, gentle or abrupt and growly at need..

Continue reading “The Tuba – The Gentleman Of Instruments.”