How many notes does bassoon play per hour? Boss wants to know

The management of Russia’s New Opera theatre has sent a questionnaire to orchestra section leaders, asking for time and motion details for each individual player. The criteria are reportedly set by the Russian Ministry of Culture.

Results for bassoon are:

– The weight of the instrument is approximately 5 kg, depending on model.

– The number of notes played per hour is 6,384 (really?).

– Number of breaths per hour: 570.

Read on here.

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  • I feel sorry for the hapless mandolin player in Mahler 7 then. I assume his cow bell rattler in the 6th has other things to do.

  • I can’t read russian but did they include how many bars you need to count. This is more stressful than playing.

    • Uhh, depends on. A big solo might be very stressful, too. But your and Adrienne’s post bring back to mind a performance of Mahler 6 striking the hammer at a wrong time point (obviously miscounting). This _is_ stress (for all, poor boy).

  • Isn’t there a single triangle ting in a Bruckner symphony? Imagine having to sit through a whole Bruckner symphony…

    • Will,
      Bruckner 8 has (depending on the edition being played) two bars – which occur twice in the slow movement, which feature a triangle tremolo, and a cymbal clash.
      For the inaugural concert given in Stockholm in December 1985, by the newly formed World Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Giulini, a percussionist was flown from La Paz, Bolivia to play the triangle part.

        • True story: I once saw the cymbal player completely miss his one and only cymbal crash in Bruckner 7. The performance was S.F. Symphony with Kurt Masur.

          • I wonder if that’s the source of the Far Side cartoon where the cymbal player is standing there thinking to himself “This time I won’t screw up! I won’t! I won’t…” except he’s only holding one crash cymbal. Caption: Roger screws up.

  • Truth is stranger than humor. This is reminiscent of the old joke about the minor bureaucrat sent to inspect the Tsar’s orchestra. The conductor was pointing out the different sections: “Here are the first violins, there are the second violins,…” “Second violins, in the imperial orchestra?” snapped the man. “All must be first!”

    • This sounds a bit like the story of the army lieutenant who wanted to have all the trombonists in the military band move their arms in the same way.

  • This is such an old joke (The book keeper’s letter to the Ministry of Culture after attending, but not understanding, a concert) that I wonder if this is true. Alas, my Russian is not up to the task of evaluating the source …

  • I wonder how bassoons (bassoonists) it takes to . . .

    Let’s start a 50 reply string on that beginning.

    • Brilliant, I left out the word “many”.

      How many bassoons does it take to blow out a birthday candle?

      • Answer: ten. Nine first to make the other people leave the room by playing an arrangement of ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ and then help the tenth player blowing-out the candle through the instrument by lifting him/her up in horizontal position.

  • I always found it unbecoming for women to play the bassoon. And it’s dangerous. My aunt Cathy played it as a hobby and got under a bus when the driver was distracted by her big case.


    • I knew a professional lady bassoonist in Scotland, some years ago, whose non-music ambition was to obtain a licence to drive a public service double decker bus. Whether she did achieve that, I don’t know, but a propos of your story (or is it Sally’s) it would at least have saved her from being UNDER the bus in spite of the size of her case.

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