Leather Alchemy - Grainger Museum

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Garry Greenwood's Leather Alchemy

Dragon Bassoon

This instrument is the second in Greenwood’s series of instruments based around the theme of ‘mythical creatures’. After the creation of many larger-tubed Bowhorns, the sculptor was keen to experiment with a longer, narrower tube, from which resulted his first bassoon.

For this, he glued together several slim tubes of leather, creating decorative pieces that both covered the joins (in the manner of traditional instrument makers) and added stability to the work when played. One of these decorative pieces is the head of a dragon, its open mouth extruding a leather bell some thirty centimetres long. The head has flaring nostrils and flat pointed ears, its body ending in a magnificent scaly tail that is removed when the mouthpiece is attached. A ‘leg’, complete with talons, holds the mouthpiece against the back of the creature’s neck for stability.

The mouthpiece can be that of a bassoon or a trumpet. With a bassoon mouthpiece the sound in the lower register is similar to a trombone, while in the middle register it is a cross between a horn and a bassoon.

In the upper register the Dragon Bassoon can yield a variety of high-pitched wails and sighs, and with all holes covered a large range of multiphonics and harmonics can be produced. A trumpet mouthpiece produces a kind of ‘barking’ sound.

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Date created:
11 December 2008
Last modified:
19 May 2011 13:46:14
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Director, Grainger Museum
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