Bassoon Sonatina

For the past few months I’ve been learning how to compose for instruments that I don’t play. It can be quite difficult because you have to think about things you might otherwise do instinctively when composing for an instrument that you are familiar with. For example, it’s easy to write a section that requires humanly impossible fingering or shifting when you don’t understand the instrument. Similarly, notes that can’t be played or sound terrible because they lay outside an instrument’s natural register range is another problem. To help me work through those issues in my very first bassoon composition, I solicited the help of a Bassoonist from my local orchestra. Fortunately, there weren’t too many problems, and after incorporating his feedback, we played the piece which you can hear in this video.


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The first movement of this sonatina is in sonata form. The first theme is a stately theme in G major and has 4/4 time. The key modulates to C major and theme two, which is really just the first theme in a different key. A dramatic development section that is mainly in G minor follows and then we hear the two themes again in the recapitulation.

The second movement is in E minor, has a 3/4 time signature, and is made up of a sad, soulful theme and 6 variations. The first variations is faster, lighter and technical. the second variation is in 4/4 time and has running 8th notes in the piano accompaniment. The third variation is in E major and is back in 3rd time. The 4th variation is back in E minor, with the theme interrupted twice by sudden key shifts. The 5th variation in E major and 4/4 time, is lighthearted and fast, and is probably the most joyful variation. The final variation in E minor and in 3/4 time, is dramatic and fast, and provides an explosive ending to the movement.

The 3rd movement is back in G major. It has a time signature of 6/8 and a form of ABACAD coda. The A theme is lively and quick, but keeps changing. The B theme is in E minor and sets a slightly darker mood than the first theme. The C theme is in D minor and is short but dramatic. The D theme is in C major and is slow and peaceful. The coda is short but sweet, Based on the A theme, it brings the sonatina to a satisfying end.

So what do you think of my very first bassoon composition? I would love to get your feedback. Please share in the comments section below.

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