Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Figaro fingerings

The Marriage of Figaro is such a staple of the bassoon audition repertoire that I think every competent bassoonist has it figured out, at least at some level. If you're guessing that I don't include myself in the ranks of competent bassoonists, you'd be right. Under most circumstances I'd ignore it, along everything else that's too hard for me, but unfortunately it's on the program for next Monday, so I have to figure something out. I did play it in high school, but that was decades ago, and as I recall the tempo was more allegretto than presto. I have no idea what the tempo will be, and I'll miss the next rehearsal, so I get a runthrough at the dress then the show. I guess I'd better be ready as possible for something like the standard quarter=144. So: practice slow, practice at and near tempo, but in short bursts, get used to it, and try to hide. But what fingerings, exactly should I practice? I think in high school I used full fingerings, but I doubt I can get those clean at full tempo. So what should I do?

Lock on, obviously. For the first F#, M suggested the trill key, one finger motion to get the turn. Makes sense, but the next F# a 16th later has to be full, since it continues to a G. (Or a G#, on the variant run.) The rest is full, except the C#-D# turn in the variant, where I lift the ring finger for D#. The question is which F#, pinky or thumb. I'm used to pinky for everything, sliding to a G# whenever possible, which is better for tuning. And that's what my fingers remember for Figaro. But the pinky F# puts all the fingers down on one side of the horn, then takes them off again, with no fingers on the other side to balance them. This results in the horn wiggling when things are fast, which causes other problems. An advantage of the thumb F# is that it balances the force from the other fingers, resulting in less motion in the instrument. So using a thumb F# basically exclusively is something I'm experimenting with for this passage. I'd better get it figured out, though, there's only a few days to go.

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