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caters

How to determine slurs for bassoon?

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So after listening to Bach's Cello Suites and his Flute Partita, I figured I would do a similar thing but for bassoon. The fact that I am writing for bassoon is partly why I decided to start with an overture instead of a prelude(French overture if you want to get into the specific type based on speed pattern). That isn't to say that the slow section won't include some fast 16ths but I have been adding long notes as I see fit.

I only have 13 measures so far, so I'm not thinking of uploading the piece yet. But I can only use the singing method for the alto range and low soprano pretty much(my natural soprano has gotten limited and squeaky over the years, and not because I overused my soprano so unlike before where I could easily sing up to a high G in my soprano, I can barely get a high C out) which means that as soon as the notes are in the range of a bass voice or a low tenor, I can't use the singing method to check for slur placement at all and in the soprano range, it isn't going to be all that accurate(Not that I would have the bassoon going into a soprano range all that often anyway).

And I myself do not play bassoon, partly because the instrument, even at beginner quality is like $3000 worth. Whereas my beginner quality flute, I got for less than $100. That is quite the price difference between the cheapest and most expensive woodwind at beginner quality, excluding auxiliaries. If I did play bassoon at an advanced level, I could just write down the notes that I want without worrying about slurs, play the notes as written, and see where I run out of breath and how I naturally phrase it. The breath and phrasing together would determine where to put the slurs. But because I don't play bassoon, and I don't have a friend who I know is a bassoonist, this method won't work either.

So if my vocal range is limited pretty much to alto and low soprano making the singing method not viable for bassoon and I don't play bassoon, nor know a friend who plays bassoon, how am I supposed to determine where to put the slurs in my Bassoon Suite?

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On 6/8/2019 at 7:02 AM, caters said:

So if my vocal range is limited pretty much to alto and low soprano making the singing method not viable for bassoon and I don't play bassoon, nor know a friend who plays bassoon, how am I supposed to determine where to put the slurs in my Bassoon Suite?

Examine bassoon parts in the typical orchestra repertoire and get an average for how long the phrases have to be. Do as other do and you'll be fine, the rest is just musical preference.

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I find it extremely difficult to compose "dry." (And by dry, I mean composing a piece simply for composition's sake.) Without exception, each piece that I actually finish has a real-world end goal in mind. For example, I don't play the cello, but I've successfully written for the instrument because I wrote the pieces for a friend who does play cello. There's something psychologically better about composing a piece for someone or for a definite performance

So with that, I would challenge your motivation for writing a bassoon suite. Chances are you won't make good progress (or good stuff) without a successful motivator. If you need to, befriend a bassoonist where you live and tell them you're writing a bassoon suite just for them. 😉 

Also, there is such a thing as circular breathing, so (in theory at least) the bassoonist could play the entire piece without "stopping" to breathe. However, not all woodwind players have mastered this technique and writing for too many sustained notes or passages might be construed as lazy composing. You want the music to be so bassoon-esque that no other instrument would even think of playing your suite!

Hope this helps, and happy composing!

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