chapter  4
Basstals or Curtoons: The Search for a Transitional Fagott
ByGraham Lyndon-Jones
Pages 14

The English language over the years has employed the terms 'bassoon' and 'curtal', while in other tongues there has been a wide variety of names for the archetypal fagotto or fagott. The two instruments are defined by F. E. Niedt in Die Musicalische Handleitung: 'Dulcian: ein teutscher Fagott - Fagotto: frantzosisch Basson'. In many places both forms, curtal and bassoon, co-existed without any transitional versions, the latter being sometimes called the French bassoon. Few instruments have been found so far which possess features of both curtal and bassoon, and not many artistic representations either. In Jaca Cathedral, in north-east Spain, the surviving collection of curtais and bassoons suggests that a replacement curtal was obtained in the late nineteenth century, being superseded soon afterwards by a French bassoon thereby missing out not only any transitional stage but several other possibilities in bassoon evolution.