orchestralbassoon.com – A Review

Bassoon excerpts, recordings, fingerings... all for free.Once in a while I find a resource that is excellent in every way. Orchestralbassoon.com is one of those resources. It contains performance scores, autograph scores, audio examples, historical notes, harmonic analyses–and the list goes on. It is a clean, thorough, and intuitive website that I return to again and again. I always learn something new.

It was created as part of a dissertation by Brett Van Gansbeke (now Instructor of Bassoon at the University of St. Thomas in downtown Houston). He says this about his reasons for creating the website:

I had toyed with the idea of incorporating a website into my dissertation for some time, with the hope that other bassoonists would be able to easily access my work if they wanted to. Frankly, I had grown frustrated with the closed ecosystem surrounding many important bassoon resources, and found that—even as a doctoral student—accessing pedagogical materials like dissertations and IDRS articles was far more tedious than it should be. Therefore, I decided to put this project online where it could be accessed easily and openly.

The site includes 47 bassoon excerpts and 16 contrabassoon excerpts. Each excerpt contains:

  • Accurate parts so users will be aware of any common or uncommon misprints
  • Accurate scores so users can study the context of the excerpt
  • A variety of recordings so users can hear the context and various interpretations of each excerpt

Van Gansbeke also notes that twenty-five of these excerpts have been chosen for a more in-depth examination. In addition to the parts, scores, and recordings, each of these main excerpts includes:

  • A historical overview to help users better understand the significance of the piece, as well as any role the bassoon plays in terms of the programme of the work
  • Pedagogical comments to give users suggestions on interpretive and technical problems
  • Fingering charts that can be useful for certain notes or trills in the excerpt
  • Harmonic analyses to help users better understand the underlying accompaniment, the bassoon line’s function in the harmonies, and how this should affect the player’s phrasing and intonation
My hope is that this resource will help players develop their own practice strategies and interpretations for these excerpts, while also educating users on the history and stories of the pieces they are taken from. It is, in essence, everything I wish had been available when I first began studying these excerpts, and I hope others will find this resource to be as useful as I do.

Amen.

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