Do you have a problem with your E-flat? Try this E-flat fingering for the bassoon!

Benjamin Coelho

Assistant Professor of Bassoon/Theory

The University of Iowa School of Music



Some notes on the bassoon have many different fingering options and other notes have only one choice.  One of the most problematic notes on the bassoon is the E-flat that falls on the third space of the bass clef (Eb2).  Generally the band books and other fingering charts for the beginner provide the simple Eb2 option which shows the fingering for that note as first, third and thumb on the left hand (figure 1).  However the Eb2 on most bassoons are very unstable and are usually sharp in pitch.  Luckily there are other fingering options for this note.  In the book Essentials of Bassoon Technique by Lewis Hugh Cooper and Howard Toplansky (Toplansky, 1968) there are seven different alternative fingerings for the Eb2 (from basic to advance techniques to trill fingerings). Of course there are other problems that can make the sound of that note out of tune and unstable like the reed, the instrument and proper air support and embouchure.  I strongly suggest to students to use the fingering as shown in figure 2.  Even though this fingering involves a more intricate combination of fingers from the left and the right hand, it stabilizes this note tremendously.  The addition of the Bb key and the second finger on the right hand gives the note more focus and a more stable intonation.  The figure 1 option should only be used in extremely fast passages.




                    Figure 1                                                                           Figure 2