The acoustics of Baroque bassoons

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 3:15pm - 4:30pm
Reiss 502
Bryant Hichwa

Hichwa and Rachor have developed a physical acoustical modeling procedure to characterize Baroque bassoons. In a previous work the researchers developed techniques to precisely determine the physical size and placement of the toneholes. From these data they mathematically deduced 1) the bassoon’s natural pitch; 2) playing pitch; 3) “phantom” bocal volume which is proportional to the vibrational volume of the reed; and 4) acoustic length corrections. In the current work, the study expanded to include 31 original bassoons and 9 copies. Original makers include Prudent, Porthaux, H. Grenser and Millhouse. The researchers’ analysis demonstrates major quantitative differences among bassoon makers. Comparisons among bassoons from the same instrument maker show acoustic similarity. Several copies show marked improvement over the originals. In general, the acoustic performance is bimodal. Either the bassoons perform well acoustically or exhibit poor performance. With increasing number of bassoons in the database and inclusion of temperaments in the analysis, the acoustic modeling procedure has become predictive (time period, country of origin and in some cases, instrument maker). Results for the entire dataset will be presented.

Host: Edward Van Keuren
Discussion Leader: Edward Van Keuren