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Ollie’s Opinions: Let’s Be Honest, Bassoons Blow

by Ollie Arnold | Copy Editor-in-Chief

5 mins read

If I were to ask a group of people which musical instrument they hate the most, I have a pretty good idea what the answers would be. Many would probably say the bagpipes, which is, quite frankly, a very obvious answer that they should be ashamed of. Some might say the recorder—mostly the parents of elementary school-aged kids who are living in auditory hell. Apartment dwellers might mention  drums in their various configurations. I, however, think that all of these instruments have their place in the world of music. There is only one member of the orchestra that deserves to be slandered.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There is no reason for anyone to play the bassoon. It is unwieldy, expensive and just not worth the steep learning curve involved in playing it.  “Bassoon” is also the worst name I have ever heard. It comes from French, a language which offends me deeply with its ridiculous number of vowels. The bassoon has completely different, and somewhat offensive, names in Spanish and German, neither of which seem related to any aspect of the instrument—it bears no resemblance whatsoever to a bundle of sticks or a cigarette. 

According to howmuchisit.org, a new bassoon can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000. That is enough money to buy 144,000 Chinese finger traps or 1,800 bags of 3,000 live ladybugs on Amazon. Honestly, I’d rather have the ladybugs. At least they contribute to the environment. The bassoon contributes absolutely nothing to society. No one would even notice if they all suddenly disappeared.

Bassoons are also some of the silliest-looking things I have ever seen. They look like an unholy combination of a folded-up clarinet and a bong with bad cable management skills. Flutes have three pieces. Trumpets have two. The bassoon has six pieces that you need to assemble every time you play it—because it hates you. The most notable piece is the one that looks like a curly straw crossed with the mouthpiece of a hookah. As you may note, all the things I could possibly compare the bassoon to are much more fun than the bassoon itself.

I took it upon myself to search “What is the hardest instrument to learn?” and of the top 10 results, 4 of them listed the bassoon. One of the main reasons for its steep learning curve is that the bassoon is a double reed instrument. Double reed instruments require much more skill than their single reed cousins, like the clarinet or saxophone, and are very difficult to play quietly. The reeds, like the instrument itself,  are also very expensive. A single bassoon reed can cost up to $30 or even $40, which seems ridiculous compared with a 10-pack of clarinet reeds that go for a similar price. Bassoons are also large enough that size does matter, as a shorter person might be unable to properly position the instrument. 

While the bassoon may not seem like a big deal, the fact that an instrument costs more than my entire net worth is giving me a hernia. I could excuse it if bassoons added anything of significance to the orchestra world, but they contribute nothing. The bassoon is a background character that should be put on a bus, never to return. 

If you are a bassoonist, just know that the only asset of your so-called instrument is its hilarious name. Other than that, the bassoon is a leech on our society and should be exterminated. If you’ve ever enjoyed music featuring a bassoon, I’m sorry to tell you that you weren’t listening to music; you were actually listening to the screams of the damned. That is something only an insane person would do, and I just can’t condone that kind of behavior.
Are you so hopping mad about something that you’ve morphed into a frog? Email me at oarnold@drew.edu (if you can type with your frog fingers), and I’ll do my best to defeat it and change you back.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Jorge Franganillo on Flickr

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