< Back to Instrument Overview

The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically appears in orchestra, concert band, and chamber music literature. Known for its distinctive tone, color, range, and agility the bassoon creates a warm, dark, reedy timbre often compared to that of the male baritone voice. Unlike the flute, clarinet, or saxophone, the bassoon cannot be supported by a player's hands alone. Most commonly, it's held with a neck strap or shoulder harness or a seat strap is attached to its base to hold it up. Bassoon embouchure is an important aspect of producing a full, round tone and is made by putting one's lips together as if one were to whistle but the jaw is dropped as if were to yawn without opening one's mouth. Students typically start with another wind instrument like the clarinet or saxophone and then progress onto the bassoon. Two of the most popular symphonic solos pieces written for the bassoon are the the grandfather's theme in Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" and the opening solo in Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."