The bassoon is the lowest sounding member of the woodwind family and is perhaps the most versatile.


Instrument: Bassoon

In this film, Amy Harman introduces her instrument - the bassoon.

The Principal Bassoon Chair is endowed by Penny and Nigel Turnbull.

The No. 2 Bassoon Chair is endowed by John Abramson.

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The bassoon’s double reed gives it a rich, slightly buzzing quality in the lowest notes and a sweet nasal sound higher up. Bassoons can be extremely expressive as solo instruments and their warm vibrato enables them to sound remarkably human, a little like a resonant baritone singer. They are also great for creating punchy rhythmic lines and as bass instruments they help provide support for the whole orchestra.


Bassoon range

Frequency Range

58 – 587 Hz

Tube Length

254 cm

Because of their versatility, bassoons have been used in orchestras for a very long time. There are a variety of larger and smaller bassoons, but these days the most commonly used additional member of the bassoon family is the contrabassoon which sounds an octave lower than the bassoon.

Did you know?

The bassoon is tricky to play; it is one of the only instruments that uses all ten fingers, thumbs included.

More about the bassoon


Robin O'Neill, Principal Bassoon, on The Rite of Spring

Robin O'Neill, Principal Bassoon of the Philharmonia Orchestra, knows the famous opening notes of The Rite of Spring intimately

The Orchestral Woodwind Section: An Introduction

The woodwind section is one of the most sonically diverse sections of the orchestra. Find out all of their secrets in this film.

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