This is a remake of BDP#1.

<Music: Hummel, Bassoon Concerto, I, Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, and Peter Amstutz, fortepiano, Oct. 1997, Kent University.>

This is the first of a multi-video series on finishing bassoon reeds. This particular series is based upon an article I wrote titled "A Pedagogy of Finishing Reeds for the German System (Heckel System) Bassoon." This was published in The Double Reed and later re-published in Scrapes.

First I would like to start by making the listener aware of some excellent resources that are available for constructing bassoon reeds and a few actually deal with finishing bassoon reeds. The journal article by Heinrich, J. M. Heinrich is available on the IDRS (International Double Reed Society) website. This is an excellent article which presents a lot of very good material.

There are two classic books (I guess you could call them that) that have available for many, years. They've been helpful for many bassoonists.
There is Christopher Weait's Bassoon Reed-Making: A Basic Technique. And Mark Popkin and Loren Glickman also have a fine book. There's another very interesting book by Mark Eubanks called, Advance Reed Design & Testing Procedure for Bassoon. It is very innovative in its approach to reed making, involving all sorts of different testing procedures that are very interesting consider.

Gerald Corey continues to provide a lot of information for bassoon reed makers. He has a videotape. This is his Kockenhauer Parallel trim bassoon reed information. He is also coming out with some new materials soon.

Perhaps the most comprehensive book on the market today about Lou Skinner's theories and techniques of bassoon remaking is written by James McKay and others.

I want to make you aware of the few web sites. Many of my students and I have taken some very careful measurements of bassoon reeds and we provide these on the web with pictures and measurements. You can go to and look at the website. For example, there is some close up pictures of the tip; and you can see the lay [blades] of the reed--they are carefully labeled by reed maker and include the measurements as well. You can have a look at these bassoon reeds. I encourage you to do so.

Many of the reeds the Bassoon Reed Project are taken from articles that I co-authored with some of my students. We have a collection of John Miller's reeds that were measured, other reeds by a North American bassoonists, contra bassoon reeds, and even a few oboe reeds are part of these measurements. These are all available on the web.

Now I want to get started on the article and I will now talk about what led me to write the article. When I examine many of the fine materials on bassoon reed making I notice that three-fourths of the articles or three-fourths of the books deal with the construction of the bassoon reed and very few articles or books deal with the finishing process. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that the construction of the bassoon reed can be done in a very objective manner based on measurements, on appearance. There can even be a sort of "recipe approach." If you do this, this, and this; you you will get this result. Unfortunately with the cane material being so variable, once you have your reed close to a finished stage you now need to have a subject approach. You need to play on the reed and make decisions based on how the reed feels, what is the resistance, how does it respond, what is the sound... How does this reed relate to the concept you want for a bassoon reed? So we are dealing with subjective criteria and these are more ephemeral [insubstantial]. For instance, if you want a darker sound, if you want a louder low register, if you want a more dependable high register, what is it you need to do? This article will be addressing some of these issues. It is my hope that it will give you some concepts that will be very helpful for your reed making.

Well, in order to set the groundwork for this series of videos and this article that I have written, we need to define some terms. In fact this first video deals with these terms and basic concepts we will need to know.

So here's some basic terms of the bassoon reed. This particular bassoon reed is not to proportion. In fact this article does not provide measurements at all. Please don't measure these illustrations. If you need to have measurements of bassoon reeds please look at the Internet sites I have already provided.

Starting at the top we have the "tip" of the bassoon reed. These angled corners let's refer to as the "wings" of the bassoon reed. There is a very critical center that we term the "heart" of the reed. That's very important for the tone quality and the vibrational characteristics. These alleyways here we will be talking about later. Here we have the "spine" that goes down the center of the reed. On the sides of the reed we have the "rails." This is all part of the lay of the blade.

As we get to the tube we have the "collar." Many bassoon reed makers leave a little bit of distance between the first wire and the collar. There are some bassoon reed makers that don't make a collar at all. This is more typical of the type we are going to call "sloped" or "pyramid" that we will talk about later. Here is the first wire. The second wire is twisted on the other side. The third word is usually covered up by a "Turk's head" or some other wrapping on the bassoon reed. There are some reed makers that even add a fourth wire in this location.

I want to talk a little bit about the concept of a ratio. If we are talking about a measurement of the thickness of the spine vs. a measurement of the rail, that's the spine to rails ratio. If we refer to the heart and wings, that is the "heart to wing ratio." This is another ratio that I will be talking about in this particular article. If the spine is 2 and the rail is 1 in thickness, then we have a 2 to 1 ratio. If the spine is 2 and the rail is thicker--1.7--then you have a 2 to 1.7 ratio.

<Music: Hummel, Bassoon Concerto, I, Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, and Peter Amstutz, fortepiano, Oct. 1997, Kent University.>