Some Fingerings for Chester

by Truman Harris

Whenever the Schuman New England Triptych third movement shows up on a program, the bassoons tend to be a bit restless.  A well-known principal player once remarked to me at an audition that he had spent half his time preparing "Chester" and the other half on everything else!
I've used a set of alternate fingerings for years and never thought much about it, until I recently saw that Dilyana Kirova, a Catholic University graduate student, was able to learn the passages in only a week.  She then performed in concerts with the National Symphony with congratulations from colleagues. 


1. These fingerings are intended to be used with a high note crook, such as a Heckel B or BD, a Yamaha Super Bocal, an Allgood, or something similar, or a high note reed.  The high C# fingering in particular won't work very well otherwise.  After playing the opening chorale with your usual bocal, there are plenty of rests during which you can  switch bocals or reeds and then play the remainder of the movement with the high equipment. 
If you're playing this at an audition, note that these excerpts are in both parts, and could occur on a second bassoon audition!

2. These solutions illustrate an important principal in our efforts to invent fingerings to solve technical passages, the notion of anchors
Notice that the Low Eb key in the left hand, and the Bb and Ab keys in the right hand are always used.  This keeps those fingers anchored securely to the instrument while the others are flying.

3. There are other solutions for these passages (we've seen some that anchor the low F key instead of Ab), and we don't claim this is necessarily the best way to do it.  If you like your way better, of course, do it that way.

4. New England Triptych is protected by copyright.  Do not re-publish the graphics without permission of the copyright holder.

5. Using the fingering charts --  "Eb" means the key on the long joint played to produce low Eb (one line below the bass clef) with the left hand fifth finger;
"Bb" means the right hand thumb Bb key on the top of the boot;
"Ab" means the right hand Ab key played with the fifth ("pinky") finger on the boot;
"hi C>" means the key on the wing joint that you normally play with your left thumb to produce High C on the third space of the treble clef.

6.  There's a learning curve here, as all of these fingerings are new and unfamiliar.  Give yourself a little time to get used to them and build in the motor co-ordination before deciding that they won't work for you.

7. We welcome suggestions for improving these fingerings. 

8. The graphics (made with Finale) are large files (498 Kb each) and may take a while to download over a slower connection....

9. Our thanks to Dilyana Kirova for her help with this project.


 "Chester" fingerings, part 1

 "Chester" fingerings, part 2