My Fingering Chart

These are my primary set of fingerings, they work well on my 9000 series Heckel and generally worked well with my previous Fox 240 (both German system instruments). The chart itself is borrowed from Fox's "Let's Play Bassoon" pamphlet, which can be found here: Fox's Let's Play Bassoon , I took the clear chart design and filled in my own choice fingerings. My current instrument has a fairly basic set of keywork, the same as what is pictured plus a high E key, so I have not used fingerings involving other keys and thus cannot recommend them. These fingerings are current as of the publish date of the page, and while there are always additions to special fingerings, it's fairly rare that I come across a fingering which works so much better than what I'm using that I'd consider adopting it as a primary fingering.

These fingerings represent maybe a third of my used fingerings, but most of the others are specialty choices for trills, fast passages, large slurs, or other complicated passages where something from the normal set doesn't work or isn't comfortable. Among the fingerings listed, the alternate fingerings are generally less used but are quick to be considered in awkward passages, with the exception of the C sharp a half step above middle C. Special considerations for some fingerings are discussed after the chart containing them, but a lot of the special considerations given to alternate fingerings in general, are given to ones not listed here. White keys are open, teal-green keys are closed (paying attention to some half covered and three-quarter covered tone holes), and yellow keys are flicked (depressed at the articulation of the note). The point of this page isn't to discuss how and when to flick, but those keys indicated are the ones used for the technique.

As with other bassoon resources on this site, use this as a source and as information rather than a doctrine or dogma. If you need to find more fingerings, like if your own and the ones featured here do not work adequately, the IDRS website has a very comprehensive list for German and French systems, trills, and extended techniques here: IDRS Fingerings , and the book "Essentials of Bassoon Technique" by Cooper and Toplansky is an excellent, comprehensive in-print resource with over 300 pages of bassoon fingerings.

 

I add the low C sharp key to my low Es to lower the pitch whenever possible, though I won't use it in plenty of technical passages. This changes which side of the instrument the note sounds from, so when switching between them for the first time may sound significantly different, even though it doesn't sound very different from a distance.

Note that the low F key is not included in the low F sharp fingering – because it is automatically depressed with either F sharp key. It is often more comfortable to have the pinky on the low F key as well to facilitate moving to notes below low F sharp, but it is not required (and sometimes gets in the way).

 

 

This E flat / D sharp fingering is, by a significant margin, the most stable and accurately in tune, so I use it whenever possible and have put considerable time into making it work in technical passages. The alternate, included later, is much less stable and is quite unfocused, so it doesn't fit within the color of the notes around it and doesn't project as well, even if you can make it in tune.

 

For my in-staff F sharp, I use the pinky F sharp key instead of the thumb unless technique gets in the way (fast passages and slurring to the G sharp above it, mostly). This key yields a flatter note while the thumb F sharp is sharper. Since, in this octave, the F sharp tends to be sharp, using the flatter fingering means less compensation, just as using the thumb F sharp in the lower octave raises the pitch slightly with a note that tends to be flatter. The other F sharp key will certainly work in a pinch.

Note the quarter holes for A flat and A, a smaller vented opening than the G and F sharp below helps articulation cleanliness and sounding in the correct octave, but opening the first finger as wide as with a G would affect the sound and cleanliness of the note. Easy does it, and for virtually all half and quarter hole fingerings on the instrument, the amount will vary from horn to horn, in different octaves, with different alternate fingerings, and even when playing in different dynamics.

 

B flat below middle C is one of the least stable notes on most bassoons. To help with articulation cleanliness, flicking appropriately and sometimes slightly venting the first finger in the left hand can help. For soft playing stability, I find that holding down the flick key keeps the note from wobbling as much with embouchure fluctuations, though it raises the pitch slightly.

This is my preferred C sharp fingering, often called short C sharp. I use one other C sharp fingering, listed in the alternate fingerings section and called long C sharp, with great frequency, enough so that I say I have two standard fingerings for the note instead of a primary and an alternate. I like the darker color of the short C sharp and the lower pitch fits more in line with the tendencies of surrounding notes, but the short fingering simply will not articulate cleanly on short notes. For short articulations, accents, a brighter sound, or louder playing, I will use the long C sharp listed later in the chart. The tendency of the other fingering is the opposite, but the cleanliness of its articulation is too good to pass on using.

For D above middle C, I rarely use the high D key as a flick, really only using it for delineating the octave in large slurs. The flick can sometimes help with soft articulation cleanliness, but I've found that it often doesn't, and it can actually cause the note to sag when flicking and playing accented, loud notes.

These E and E flat fingerings are my default, but they don't function well in all slur combinations, so lifting the first finger of the right hand using either fingering can clean up certain slurs, especially when slurring to the note.

 

My standard F sharp above middle C fingering, pictured here, is not a standard for many people, and for one reason: the half hole in the second finger of the left hand. Without the half hole, the note has trouble speaking and since we're generally not used to half holing that finger, it can be a tough fingering to pick up. This fingering is a bit darker and a bit lower in pitch than most standard F sharp fingerings though, and the pitch can be modified by how open the half hole is. The other big advantage is that it almost always works when slurring to it, as long as you have an open enough half hole in your second finger.

For both G sharp and A, I sometimes use just the third finger in my right hand (the G key) instead of all three. I find using all three puts the pitch in a more accurate place and gives me a better sounding note, but sometimes it's just easier to coordinate only using one finger.

 

I do not use the low E flat key (I call it a resonance key, whatever that means) on my high Bs because it raises the pitch on an already sharp-leaning note.

I use the high D key instead of the C flick key for Rite high C because of something I've noticed on my horn: using the C flick key yields a flatter, but still sharp, note that does not articulate as well and is not as flexible. The high D key raises the pitch, but it makes it easier to articulate and lets the note sound stable over a wider range of pitches. That means, since I will have to bring the C down to be in tune either way, the high D key lets me flex down to the correct pitch with more tone stability and at a softer dynamic, even though it pushes the tendency of the note up slightly and I have to compensate for it more. I sometimes use the C flick key instead under certain slurs where the high D key is not as reliable.

I do not use the low E flat key (resonance key) on my high C sharps because it raises the pitch on a note that doesn't need it.

With the right amount of half hole in the second finger, this high D fingering tends to pop right out and is fairly in tune.

This high E flat fingering I called "magic E flat" when I learned it because even a player not very comfortable with the high end of the horn can pop it out at a moment's notice. Though the technical transition from the high D is complex, I've found that this fingering is closely related to the "harmonic E" fingering I use for the note just above, and this fingering gives me the most reliable articulation and widest dynamic range of the E flat fingerings I've tried.

 

My default high E fingering is this "harmonic" E, instead of using the E key, it is based on over-blowing a harmonic from a modified lower fingering. With the right amount of half hole, this is my best bet for articulating the note and gives me the best stability and tone, though because it is technically very different from a lot of notes below it, using the alternate with the E key is often a better choice when slurring from a lower note to high E to eliminate the blip made when your fingers jump between fingerings.

I rarely use the thumb A flat key to play my A flats, but every so often there's an awkward passage where remembering that the key exists is all that it takes to fix a significant problem. The key actuates the same holes as the pinky A flat key, so they can be used interchangeably in either octave and sound identical.

 

I only use this in the staff E flat fingering as a last resort in technical passages. It is unfocused and sharp, but if you aim low it can be a good option for E flat to F trills and technical passages involving the D flat below it.

This is my "fast" F sharp fingering. I make every effort to use my primary one most of the time, but there are times when venting the second finger just isn't going to happen in something fast, so it helps to have this as an option. This, and others, often make good young player F sharp fingerings because they are much easier to get to, but I would still advocate using the second finger half hole fingering as a primary one.

Both the E flat and E fingerings using their respective keys are quick to get to when you get used to shifting your fingers off the tone holes, but neither is as stable, in tune, or articulates as reliably as the fingerings listed earlier. The lack of articulation is what really got me to convert, but there are certainly times when it pays to have a quicker option than the comparatively challenging other fingerings. For the high E fingering, I sometimes leave off the right hand first finger to get to it more cleanly, though using the finger yields a more stable note.

 

 

July 12, 2014
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