We developed an online bassoon sound-encyclopedia for bassoonist Johannes Schwarz. It is the most extensive contemporary sound archive for the bassoon, including more than 26,000 different sounds and more than 100,000 specific items of information on tones, noises, notation, and different styles of playing. The online archive is available all over the world and is suitable for both amateurs and musicologists.
About the artist and researcher
Johannes Schwarz is a professional bassoonist based in Frankfurt. He has been a member of the Ensemble Modern since 2003 and has recorded a wide range of CDs, either as a solo artist or with the Ensemble. He teaches chamber music, and the bassoon at the academies in Essen and Cologne and is a lecturer at the International Ensemble Modern Academy and artistic director of its Master’s degree course “Contemporary Music”.
Over a period of five years, Johannes Schwarz played and recorded over 26,000 different sounds on the bassoon, using 65 different playing techniques. His playing techniques were not only professionally recorded, but also analyzed in detail to meticulously preserve the playing methods with notation. His idea was to create an comprehensive online sound archive for the bassoon, to make the tonal possibilities of the instrument useful and accessible worldwide to professional bassoonists, musicologists, and amateurs.
The inspiration for the digital sound encyclopedia awoke out of necessity. As a musician you depend on musical archives. While most of them are archived analog, digital ones tend to be rather ʻamateurish collections’. My goal is to provide a comprehensive common language for bassoon composers and musicians online.
But making more than 26,000 individual sounds and 100,000 individual pieces of information available worldwide via an online archive requires technical know-how as well as an understanding of the subject matter. Due to our many years of experience in dealing with artists and cultural practitioners, we brought not only the necessary technical knowledge but also artistic sensitivity to realize such a project of this size.
Nowadays there’s a greater need for people and companies that come up with creative solutions of their own. For me, the incredible amount of data available in the world is only useful when being maintainable. For that you need creative force precisely at the interface. And that is clearly where MESO is.
The archive is intended to provide composers and musicians with a communication tool to explore the possibilities of the bassoon. At the same time, amateurs have a comprehensive source of general information and can easily find answers to more specific questions.
The archive contains traditional playing styles as well as all other possible playing styles of the instrument, including recordings, analysis, and descriptions of all playable tones and noises.
The tool is already being used in the academic and artistic field, for example, in joint workshops with students of the master’s course or at rehearsals for chamber orchestra performances. Further expansions such as an intuitive input of fingering options, a mobile version, and a tool for automatic tone detection via smartphone are conceivable.
Starting with the bassoon, the digital sound archive will promote contemporary artistic creation by exchanging information on playing techniques. It will be available free of charge on the Internet and used as a reference work for basic scientific research, as well as a source of sound inspiration for musicians all over the world.