This is a remake of BDP#2.

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

This spring-like action of the points of inflection allows an infinite variety of apertures. As such it gives the widest dynamic contrast and diversity of timbre or tone on the reed. It helps the player to adjust to all sorts of different situations. Perhaps it is also helpful with intonation. So in general this is why I find that my normal reed needs points of inflection. I think that most players would say that their normal reed needs points of inflection as well. It allows for dynamic nuance, and gives the player a greater range of tone and abilities to play with.
Now a reed with no points of inflection—again this tends to be the concerto reed type—will have what I call an “all or nothing” aperture. This is, of course, an extreme example. We don't even see points of inflection at the corners (edge of the tip area). If we were to have a number 4, it would show the reed all the way flat (closed). But notice how the entire surface of the reed, at least in this picture here, is all vibrating. However, the aperture height has been greatly diminished. This means less air is able to go through the reed. Obviously number 3 here is going to be quieter (softer) in dynamic than number 1. Number 3 is probably going to be easier to play up high; number 1 down low. So with the concerto reed you still have a maximum amount of vibration surface, but you are able through embouchure adjustments and adjustments of the reed aperture to play throughout the entire range of the instrument.

Let’s further explore these reed types in terms of how they apply to the normal reed. For instance, if you are having consistent difficulties with the high register of the bassoon , you might have a normal reed type that favors the low register. So for instance, your reed may tend to occupy this position, drawing only a little bit from the high note characteristics, favoring much more the low note or quiet characteristics. In this particular location it does not also favor the concerto reed. In order for you to gain better command of the high register and have more accuracy with the high register, towards the high note reed. So you would look at the concepts of what is in a high note reed and make some of those adjustments, make changes in what you find in the low note reed, moving it in the direction of the high note reed.

Now you notice that I have listed a number of characteristics of the high note reed. Part of reed making is learning which characteristic to change. A lot of this comes from experience. A lot can also come from learning from other reed makers, from talking with them, from learning from a teacher (if you have one), and of course experimentation.

If you are in that situation where you have a low note reed and you want to change it to a high note reed, well pick one quality of the high note reed that you think your reed doesn’t have and apply it to that reed and see what changes it made. It probably pushes it in this direction, but making it pushes it in a direction you don’t like. Maybe it changes the timbre, or the articulation, or something. So you may need to make another adjustment. But the way to learn these characteristics and how to move your reeds in one direction or another—for  your normal reed—is to have your normal reed adopt more of these characteristics.

I know that in my career, when I first started my professional career playing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, I had a reed in this location. It drew more on the concerto tendencies and definitely drew upon the high note tendencies. Through my playing experience, and part of this is because I play much more chamber music now than I do orchestral music, I think my reed has moved more over to this area. So everyone’s normal will move around in this spectrum. It is good for you to understand that your normal over the years will move according to the demands of playing you have. So having these concepts and being able to apply these different reed type counterpoises—these specialty reeds—will help you to adjust your normal reed and will help you gain the conception of not only how to make the specialty reeds (which are also important) but also how to make your normal reed.

Well, let me close with another prayer for you. God I would ask for your blessing on those listening to this video. That You would become real in their lives. That you would open their understanding to reed making and reed types. And Lord you would also open their understanding to You. We ask this in Your Name. Amen.

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