The bassoon family consists of only two members and makes up the bass section of the double reed family. While each type of bassoon is mechanically different, the musical approach to each instrument is similar. Bassoons have been used in music from the Baroque period to the Modern period.
The standard bassoon is a double reed instrument that belongs to the woodwind family. It is written in the bass or tenor clefs, and sounds at the same pitch level in which it is written (concert pitch).
The Contrabassoon is the largest and lowest-sounding member of the double reeds family; it sounds an octave lower than it is written. It is also often referred to as the "double bassoon."
While the bassoon uses a reed that measures 53 to 58 mm in length, the contrabassoon uses a much larger reed at 65 to 72 mm.
Although many of the key combinations used to play notes (also known as fingerings) remain the same throughout the middle and lower ranges, the major difference in fingering between the two instruments is in the upper register.
The bassoon comes in several pieces, and can be taken apart and put back together fairly quickly before and after playing. However, the contrabassoon only comes in a few pieces, and a screwdriver is required to separate each piece from the instrument body.