musings of a professional bassoonist

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

High F

Sigh.  High F.  Sure, I can squeeze it out using a high note reed or an Allgood high bocal, but I want to be able to add F5 to my repertoire of everyday notes.  My goal is to be able to include F5 in scale practice using my everyday Heckel CC1 bocal.  (Is this goal reasonable?)

My current bassoon (Heckel 15421) enables me to play reliably up to high E (E5) on regular reeds (as opposed to "high" reeds), and I am glad that my scale routines can cover the bassoon from Bflat1 through E5 without altering my equipment in any way.  But now I want to expand to F5!

This is the only fingering I've had any success with:

It only works for me some of the time, on certain reeds.  I am using a very tight embouchure which is parallel (no overbite).

Do you have any solutions?!  Please comment here or send me an email at  I will post the solutions in a later blog post.  I'm interested in any information or suggestions offered, even if it involves alteration of equipment!




RWRoesch said...

When I'm up on that extreme high end, it's almost ALL overbite for me! My bottom lip doesn't vibrate at all, and my top lip does all the work against the bottom of the cup with a HUGE amount of a very, very fast moving air. Of course that's of no benefit to a bassoonist :)

RWRoesch said...

I should mention to get that end of the extremes I go through a very noticeable shift in embouchure, so my fluidity from the top of the bass staff to the top of the treble staff is very minimal. That kind of stuff usually only appears at the end of a showpiece though, so we usually have time to make the shift! Then again, if we're not feeling particularly brave, we can always just drop a rumbling pedal tone to get the same response from the audience :)

TFox said...

There was one day a year ago when a high F worked for me, using the fingering that I'd learned in high school but that never sounded before: high E (w/ E key) + left thumb A+C# + right thumb Bb. I quickly recorded a three-octave F scale. Listening to it later, I realized that the high notes were so painfully out of tune that even if I could play it reliably, it wouldn't be useful musically. These days I rarely go above a C in scales.

Dave said...

Try adding the low D key to that F fingering. It makes a huge difference in reliability for me. Also, how are you approaching the F? If you're going right from E, try the fingering on page 356 of the Cooper/Toplansky (1/2 2 3 4 5 6 plus C#). I find that adding low D on that fingering helps too, and minimizes the finger movement between that and the F. That combination of E and F fingerings works for me on my normal equipment and most reeds.

For reference, my normal equipment is a Püchner 5000C with a Leitzinger SL1 bocal.

B.S. said...

Thank you all. I will be posting the results soon!!!


Anonymous said...

Here are some high note fingerings by Steve Harriswangler:

B.S. said...

Anonymous- thanks for the link to these high fingerings!