The Way of Cane by Eric Arbiter
The Way of Cane
The Science, Craft, and Art of Bassoon Reed-making
by Eric Arbiter
As the sound-producing mechanism for the bassoon, the reed is a vital component of the instrument. While manufactured reeds are widely available, this one-size-fits-all option hardly does justice to the unique needs of individual musicians and pieces. A nuanced and difficult craft to master, reed making involves specialized machinery and necessitates special attention to the thickness, and even topography, of the reed itself. When done correctly, however, this process results in a reed that not only produces a more beautiful sound, but also holds up to even the most demanding musical performances.
In The Way of Cane, author Eric Arbiter demystifies this process for players of all levels of experience. Drawing from decades of experience as both musician and reed-maker, Arbiter provides a comprehensive overview of the craft. From the differing sound qualities produced by changing the reed's dimensions, to the changes in its behaviors as it passes through cycles of wetting and drying during production, small changes make a big difference to a bassoonist's ideal sound. With step-by-step instructions, detailed photos, and a companion website featuring the author's own recordings, The Way of Cane emphasizes the importance of the reed to the bassoon's sound, as well as the harmony between reed and musician.
In a nutshell, The Way of Cane discusses the following topics.
- Explores how different reed designs govern a bassoon's tone quality and enhance performance
- Provides tools for bassoonists to achieve their ideal sound
- Emphasizes holistic understanding of how cane behaves
Recommended Tools List
Hand Tools for Beginners
- Sanding Plaque
- Holding Mandrel
- Forming Mandrel Drying Board
- Trimming Knife
- Cutting Knife OR #11 Blade Hobby Knife, OR Single Edge Razor Blades
- Cutting Block OR Tip Cutter
- Reamers - Spiral and/or Diamond reamer, OR Small Rat-tail File
- Reed Making Bassoon Pliers
- Reed Wire - 22 gauge
- Reed Thread for Wrapping OR Heat Shrink Tubing
- Thick Cotton Thread for Forming
- Bassoon Easel
352 Pages | 221 figures
7 x 10 inches
About the Author
Eric Arbiter is a professional musician and photographer. He was Associate Principal Bassoonist for the Houston Symphony for 45 years, as well as Assistant Professor of Music at Rice University for 19 years, where he chaired the wind department.