Boehm System

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The Boehm System is a system of fingerings, created by inventor and flautist Theobald Boehm in the 1830s which was originally used on the flute and then on a variety of woodwind instruments, including the clarinet, bass clarinet and saxophone. It replaces the older Albert system, and is known predominantly for simplifying the progression of fingerings as one moves up and down the scale. The idea is that one should be able to start at the bottom of the scale by putting all keys down, then move up the major scale one note at a time by simply removing one finger at a time. In reality, of course, this is only partially realized. The saxophone probably comes closest to the ideal, having fewer irregular fingerings than the clarinet; and a true octave key, which neither the clarinet nor the flute possesses.

The bassoon (and contra-bassoon) are unique members of the woodwind family in that they are both fingered with Heckel-system keywork, a descendant of the original Baroque fingering system, as opposed to the otherwise ubiquitous Boehm system.

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