Middle Register Tunings Q & A
Q: What if I can’t match the tuning A?
A: Check the Harmonic A tuning, Test 9. If the harmonic is flat in pitch, the regular fingering will also be flat. As a cross check, also check Fork Bb, Test 11. Pad height greatly effects the tuning of A: if too open, it will be sharp, if too closed it will be flat. On some bassoons the A tone hole is too small, leading to flatness and croaking/split tone in articulation.
Note: the lower A is often sharp, while the tuning A can be flat. If the tuning A is okay, recheck tuning techniques in the Fundamental Tunings, especially Test 4. Tuning tape in the A tone hole is not recommended unless both notes are exceptionally sharp with a standard pad height (Fig. 4B in the Quick Guide).
Q: Why does my embouchure get so tired when playing long tones in the middle register?
A: A good test for checking middle register fatigue is the opening lines of Mozart Concerto for Bassoon, movement 2. Check the opening C by plugging your right ear while holding the pitch with a tuner. Does it drift flat? Check the same with D. Flatness on these two notes indicates a lack of good resistance in the reed vibration. Squeeze the second wire from the sides to close the tip slightly and then reopen the tip by squeezing the first wire from the sides to the original tip aperture. This procedure will strengthen the spine and raise the pitch of the middle register.
It is common to become very fatigued in Brahms symphonies, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and Handel oratorios. The best solution for long, extended periods of playing is to make a cut reed which requires less embouchure.
As stated in the Quick Guide Final Tests, can you play the entire range of the bassoon out of the corner of your mouth? If you become fatigued in playing long passages, swing the reed into the corner of the mouth to rest the lips and to regain blood flow.