Frank Zappa once commented that the bassoon has “…a medieval aroma…” and after hearing the bassoon, I definitely agree. Often, bassoons are compared to male baritones, having a similar quality of sound. To me, the reverberation of the bassoon is reminiscent of a deep, warm voice, conjuring childhood images of a Disney’s Peter and the Wolf’s grandfather. The bassoon has a long history of adding depth to orchestras.
The bassoon can trace its roots back to the dulcian, both instruments have similar sounds and construction. Long bodies, double reeds and metal hook tubes typify the dulcian and bassoon. It was not until the 1800’s that the bassoon as we know it now, emerged. Interestingly, bassoons became popular during the Reformation, when churches began to diverge from the Catholic Church. Organs were viewed “…as monuments to superstition and idolatry…” thus, the bassoon and other instruments surfaced to fill the musical void.
As I processed the Blank Collection, I noticed more and more pieces for the bassoon appearing. The thought occurred to me that Dr. Blank may have been extremely fond of the rich sound of the bassoon and added it to compositions to create complexity. Pending the discovery of a letter, or note stating his preferred instrument, I cannot say that the bassoon was his favorite. However, twelve scores and counting, leads me to believe that he did have a soft spot for this distinctive member of the woodwind family.
Click HERE to listen to Allan Blank’s Interacting Patterns for Solo Bassoon played by Sarah McKittrick Sethi.
Scores I have discovered so far written by Allan Blank:
Three Related Pieces for Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon
Four Inventions for Bassoon and Piano
Three Miniatures for Two Clarinets and Bassoon
Three Windgrams: Copies for Flute, Clarinet in A and Bassoon
Seven Silhouettes for Flute and Bassoon
Trio for Flute, Bassoon and Piano
Three Bagatelles for Solo Bassoon
Introduction and Rando Fantastico for Bassoon and Piano
Four Triadic Portraits for Three Bassoons with notes
Two Articulation Studies for Solo Bassoon
Concertino for Bassoon and Strings