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Bassoon.—Courtesy of United Musical Instruments U.S.A., Inc., Elkhart, Indiana
Principal tenor and bass instrument of the orchestral woodwind family. Its mouthpiece has a double reed attached to a curved metal crook, which leads to a narrow conical bore that doubles back on itself (to keep its length manageable). It developed from the older curtal (or dulzian) in the 17th century. An agile instrument with a mild tone, it has a range of 3 octaves, starting at B-flat two octaves below middle C. The contrabassoon, a large metal instrument whose tubing doubles back four times, has a range an octave lower.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on bassoon, visit Britannica.com.