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Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I think that we should have a competition for the most obscure woodwind. G'head. Try to one-up me. I dares ya!

The Tritonikon is a metal double-reed instrument that looks a lot like the ophicleide, reed contrabass and Sarrusophone. It was one of the many instruments designed in the mid-ish 19th century to improve on the contrabassoon.

Here's the Czech to English translation of the Wikipedia article from Google Translate:
History, development and construction

The invention of this instrument is attributed to Vaclav královéhradeckému toolmakers Red Francis (1819-1896) and falls to 1856. Some structural elements are undoubtedly the work of Belgian toolmakers, composer and music theorist Victor-Charles Mahillon (1841 Brussels - 1924 Wed-Jean Cap Ferrat in Belgium). The concept of the workshop tritonikonu VF Red based partly on metal bassoons toolmakers Johann Stehle, whose company produced an improved model Schöllnast und Sohn, Bratislava, and partly from ofiklejdy, in which red sleeve tentatively replaced cane slices. He made a total of twenty different tritonikonů toned, three of which are located in the collection of musical instruments of the National Museum in Prague. Sarrusofonu invention that offered players improved technical capabilities and application, development tritonikonu stopped. The fate sarrusofonu later in a similar manner saxophone care.

The tool is made of brass and its shape reminds tube. Body of the instrument consists of Esíčko to which he attaches a double slice spiral curved tube with holes and fitted navrtanými damper mechanism and a short corpus. Holes in the tool tube is unusually large and its design ensures a unique feature of this tool - every tone is produced only a single flap and no tones no need to use a combination of flaps. The drive is also completely organized jedinenčným way - in principle fingering notes piano keyboard - left hand little finger controls the valve deepest tone, while the little finger of his right hand the highest tone. Other fingers of the control valve intermediate tones. Belgian Mahillon toolmaker who worked on the development of tools, prohláil that "players versed in piano playing is enough to dominate tritonikonu just a few days. The only thing that may initially cause problems for the upper left-hand position. "In addition to the individual tones flap tritonikon octave has two flaps and a few inch valves, including control of the tone D ', which differs from the other valves reverse the starting position.

The slices of development tools, which due to the characteristics of sound They made of metal, which involves more than manufacturers. In addition to this tritonikonu and metal bassoon Harmoniebaß Johann Stehle is also one among them Paolo Pelitti with his models and Basso controfagottone controfagotto D'Ottone Brass or bassoon, Heinrich Joseph Haseneier and Contrabassophon 1850 Victor-Charles Mahillon, Brussels, who presented the contrabass anche-a-tool-making workshop or delivering Orsi Italian military bands tool contrabass ad chance.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
[channeling=SOTSDO] Isn't the improvement on an alto clarinet called "a poke in the eye with a sharp stick"? [/channeling]

If you think about it, there were probably more efforts to improve double-reeds than any other woodwinds. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Sarrusophones, bassophone, and the Tritonikon to improve on just the contrabassoon. While the clarinet and flute had a gradual evolution to what they are today -- and, arguably, they'll evolve some more -- there has never really been a "replacement" for either, that I'm aware of. (Before someone points this out, it's arguable that the saxophone was meant as a clarinet replacement -- even a bass clarinet replacement.)

I rather like the bassoon parts in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Schickele's Last Tango in Bayreuth, but the only time I really paid much attention to bassoon was when I had to double them when playing bass or contrabass clarinet.


Old King Log
Staff member
A whole world onto itself...

Bassoon playing (and real bassoon players) operate in a completely different world from the rest of us. Even the ones that double saxophone and clarinet are a bit wacky when compared to the rest of us.

Some say it's the high pressures developed when playing the thing, but I like to think it's from the nail polish solvent vapor from making those reeds. My son was relatively normal until he took up the bassoon, but two years of the thing turned him into the berserker that he is today.

I am more and more tempted to get me a Runyon mouthpiece. The reed is the major obstacle, and unless you practice, practice, practice, you never really learn all of the nuances involve in manipulating the things. I don't have enough time to practice clarinet, bass clarinet and sax, much less to spend considerable amounts of time on a horn that I only use occasionally.

Unless i am preparing for a show where I double bassoon, I'll only haul it out once in a great while. With the mouthpiece as an option, I can practice fingering and such without having to screw with a reed (both mechanically and in the embouchure - playing bassoon really stresses the mouth muscles in a different fashion than do the other horns).

And, I've said it before but I'll say it again: there is nothing more beautiful than a bassoon played way up there in the uppermost registers.
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