Choosing an appropriate bocal

Most surviving historical bassoons, including small-size tenoroons and fagottini, lack original bocals and reeds – these fragile parts can easily be lost or damaged. Even if a bassoon is accompanied by a bocal, it cannot ever be certain if it was ever used with a particular instrument, or if it is at all suitable. This was the case with FT44, located in Leipzig, which has an uncharacterically long, unstamped bocal of unknown origins, which we could not test. Furthermore, Wieland Hecht (collection curator at the Musikinstrumentenmuseum der Universität Leipzig) confirmed that no bocal was present in a photo taken during cataloguing of the collection from ca. 1935, leading us to believe it was most probably added later. We finally chose not to include it in this study.

In the case no bocal is present, the only option remaining is to construct copies for playing trials, which always involves a certain degree of subjectivity. Furthermore, functionality is greatly influenced by the reed choices, capabilities and demands of each individual player. These issues are, however, not unknown and can be resolved with consistent trial-and-error testing.

Fortunately, we do have measurements of various surviving bocals for small bassoons, and these can be seen as a starting point for making a selection of models to recreate and test. (Datasets of these instruments can be viewed at their respective links.) Measurements of the FT14 Denner fagottino have been likewise considered, but lacking bore data, we finally excluded this model in this study. By comparing fagottino dimensions (lengths, diameters, progressions of bores) and finding similarities, we could decide which bocals to copy and test with the 3D-models our two case studies:

In this case, we compared the measurement data of the following instruments to FT40 and FT44: