The bassoon rounds out the woodwind section of the "Baltimore Rhapsody" symphony blocks. (Read more about the "Baltimore Rhapsody" project here.)
The body of the bassoon is wooden and would stretch to 8 feet long if it wasn't doubled up so that the player can reach all the keys. The longer the instrument's body or tubing, the lower the sound. The bassoon plays in the bass and tenor range...very low.
A thin, metal tube, or bocal, connects the body of the instrument to the double reed...two pieces of reed that are tied together and trimmed carefully to make the mouthpiece.
Air blown through this double reed causes the reeds to vibrate to produce the tone in the same way as the oboe and English horn. Some people consider the distinctive bassoon sound to be the "comedian" or "clown" of the orchestra.
The bassoon represented the comical, ever-increasing, enchanted brooms carrying buckets of water in the Disney cartoon Fantasia's version of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Dukas.
It can also play sweet melodies or whisper the deep tragic feelings expressed in the opening of Tchaikowsky's "Pathetique" Symphony #6.
Remember the "59th Street Bridge Song" by Simon and Garfunkel (also called "Feelin' Groovy")? The bassoon was featured prominently in that top 40 hit of 1966 (probably the only pop song to feature a bassoon...).
The bassoon was invented in 1600. It is used in orchestras, bands, and woodwind quintets (along with flute, oboe, clarinet and French horn).
Next, on to the string section of the orchestra!