“There once was a brainy baboon, Who always breathed down a bassoon, For he said, It appears, That in billions of years, I shall certainly hit on a tune.” Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, English Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician & Philosopher.
The bassoon has a very similar history and development to that of the oboe. It came from the Dulcian, around the time that the Shawm was beginning to be replaced by the oboe. In Italy in the late 17th Century, it was named the Fagotto, in France the Fagottez, and in England the Bassoon.
Played using a double-reed, the bassoon is usually made out of European Maple wood, and has a conical bore which doubles back on itself, making the pitch deeper. It originally had just three or four keys, but during the 18th Century, it began to have six keys. Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto for example, was written for a model with six keys.
At the turn of the 19th Century, bassoons had eight keys, and during the following years, many more keys were added, and two models emerged, the German Heckel Style and the French Buffet Style. These are the two models on which our modern day bassoons are based.