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list                           Mon, 6 Jul 1998            Volume 1 : Number 22

In this issue:


Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 07:12:44 EDT
From: <>
Subject: sub-woofer hearing

From: Lelia Loban,

I'm new to The Contrabass List.  I'm an amateur musican.  The closest thing to
a Godzilla in my collection (they breed in the night...) is my 1926 C. G. Conn
bass saxophone.  I'm terribly envious of the contrabass sarrusophones and so
forth, but I'll try not to drool into the computer keyboard too much as the
digests arrive.

In the Archives posted so far, several people have described, in a matter-of-
fact manner, an ability to hear 64' pitch CCCCC, which is approximately 8 Hz,
and even lower. Some say that they trained themselves to hear lower notes than
they formerly could hear.  At least one person on this list believes that he
can hear the foundation tone of 3.5 Hz. Several people report experiencing
discomfort, even pain, from high frequency sounds.

According to conventional wisdom among doctors and specialists in acoustics,
the lower limit of human hearing is about 15 Hz.  (I'm not a doctor.  I've
been doing research on the subject, for a horror novel.)  The average adult
can only hear down to 20 Hz (cycles per second), which is also the lower limit
of the average audio playback system.  Some children can hear 16 Hz, which is
the foundation tone of 32' CCCC on a pipe organ.  Some organs have larger
pipes to take advantage of the fact that most people can feel the rumbling
effect of sub-audible notes, some of which can cause structural damage to a
building.  (Ted White, a musician, science fiction writer and former editor of
_Amazing Science Fiction_, told me that 6 Hz is earthquake frequency and that
whether we perceive a slow wave as a sound and/or as something else is rather
subjective.)  Sub-audible fundamentals also produce a rich overlay of audible
high partials that add to the aesthetic appeal of organs with monstrous pedal
pipes or acoustic bass effects such as Vox Gravissima (64' pitch produced by
pairing up a rank of 32' Double Diapasons with a rank of 10-2/3' Quinta-
Bombardes, for instance, with the mouths of the corresponding pipes facing
directly into each other).  The average person can hear up to about 20,000 Hz,
although there's considerably more variation between individuals at the top of
the normal range.  Most people lose something off both ends of our range as we
age.  It seems that the ability to hear tones lower than 15 Hz is extremely
rare at any age.  The ability to hear 3.5 Hz would astound the medical

Four possibilities (not mutually exclusive, of course) come to mind:

1.  The overtone series of any note includes octaves, doubled octaves, and so
forth.  Maybe at times we hear a high partial and only think we're hearing the
fundamental.  In other words, we expect a certain note, and therefore we may
extrapolate what the foundation tone of the audible harmonic series ought to
sound like, even though in fact we can't hear a tone that low.  We imagine it.

2.  People with a fondness for low pitch may develop the ability to sense the
of a wave with faculties other than hearing.  We may "hear" some frequencies
by subconsciously perceiving the speed of the vibration of the hair on our
arms, for instance.

3.  Maybe this site self-selects for people with freakish hearing.  (I trust
that no self-respecting Contrabass Maniac will be insulted by the term
"freakish".)  It may be that our attraction to sub-bass instruments is quite
literally bred into us and that the business about "hearing voices" coming
from the bell of the monster horn is no joke--it may be that we really do hear
things that most people can't.

4.  Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

Hearing tests performed in the typical medical setting are designed to detect
abnormally poor hearing.  They are not designed to detect abnormally acute
hearing.  It might be instructive to invite a hearing specialist to attend a
contrabass music conference, test the participants and find out what's really
going on.  (My guess is that a graduate student offered a group of self-
selected giant mutant guinea pigs would be more than happy to make a project
of such testing, without charging a fee.)  I'd be most interested in knowing
whether any of you have had hearing tests designed to determine the actual
limits of your hearing range, not just whether you can hear within normal
limits.  I theorize that very few of us have had really complete hearing
tests, for the simple reason that it must have been obvious from the get-go
that we're not deaf.

Lelia Loban


Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 10:33:03 -0400
From: "RJ Carpenter" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Harwoods

If that is the case; then it should be a simple matter of looking at the
upper stack and high D, and Eb keys...  Conns and Bueschers had * vastly *
different mechanics.  And Paul, who said that I was going to compare the
number to Buescher numbers???  They are many institution that I can contact
to try to get information on this horn; you're not always the only one who's
right...;-) (though I was wrong about the them all being Bueschers...)
    Did Harwood make anything other than Basses; I've seen several Harwood
bass saxes; but never anything else made by Harwood...
Tristan Carpenter- Clarinetist, Saxophonist, and Bassist.
" is the voice of the soul."
>In a message dated 7/5/98 5:49:29 PM, you wrote:
>Sorry, folks, but I've also seen non-Buescher Harwoods over the years, so one
>can not assume the bass is Buescher-made.  Also, the serial number will have
>no relationship to either the Buescher or Conn numbers.  So for accurate
>verification of the horn, I still refer you to my original post.
><<Harwood is a stencil name produced in the 1920s.  More than likely a Conn or
>Buescher instrument.  Details of engraving, markings and numbers can reveal
>more. >>
>Paul Cohen


Date: Sun, 05 Jul 1998 11:55:06 -0400
From: "Gerald E. Corey" <>
Subject: subscribe

On your submit form there is no way I can type in my name, address, etc.
information.. only the email address has a box for input.. I did this
and was told that my address was not given. This is not user-friendly.
        I am: Gerald E. Corey
                1069 Bronson Place
                Ottawa, Ontario
                Canada K1S 4H2

                Tel. 613-730-2418
                Fax. 613-730-1589

I would like to subscribe to the Contrabass Digest and am primarily
interested in articles about Heckelphone, Heckelphone reeds,
performances with Heckelphone, recordings with Heckelphone.
On June 6, 1988, I performed Graham Waterhouse's
        "Four Epigrams after Escher" for Viola, Heckelphone and Piano
        Performers were Peter Rosario, viola
                        Gerald Corey, Heckelphone
                        Graham Waterhouse, piano
        Location, Univ. of Arizona at Tempe, AZ.. Conference 1998
        of the International Double Reed Society. A recording was
        made of this U.S. premiere of the new work. It is a very        interesting
and sensitve composition, worthy of inclusion
        in the repertoire of this rare and fine instrument (Heckelphone)
        Sincerely submitted, Gerald Corey, Principal bassoon
        Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa


Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 13:34:43 EDT
From: <>
Subject: FS: 1936 Eb King Recording Bass

Please go to  for more details.




Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 13:51:20 -0500
Subject: WTB: Holton Baritone 3rd Valve

Does anyone know of a person or shop that I might be able to find a
third valve for a Holton baritone horn? Bought the horn cheap at a flea
market and would rather play it than hang it on the wall! The serial
number is in the 511xxx range. Reward offered for info that leads to
purchase (I won't pay a million bucks for just a valve!)


Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 14:01:25 EDT
From: <>
Subject: Re:  WTB: Holton Baritone 3rd Valve

Check out  Manny at the Horn Connection. 213 876-9662 for the valve you need.


Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 16:25:34 -0400
From: "Gerald E. Corey" <>
Subject: performance announcement Ottawa Int'l Chamber Music Festival July 98

Hello Contrabass list, This note is from Gerald Corey, Prin. Bassoon of
Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, Canada..since 1972.
        In addition to bassoon I play the french system bassoon of
Buffet-Crampon and on occasion the Heckelphone.
        On July 30 at the noon hour at the University of Ottawa in
Tabaret Hall, I will be performing with colleagues a recital of "French
Baroque Treasures and More".. works for oboe d'amore, french bassoon and
harpsichord (arr. by Jennifer Paull, foremost advocate of the oboe
d'amore and its music worldwide).. composers Louis Caix d'Hervelois and
Marin Marais.. also on the program will be a performance of the
"Duo" of Albert Roussel for basson and contrabass .. I will play the
french bassoon on the bassoon line and Dennis James of New York City,
acting principal bassist of my orchestra National Arts Centre
Orchestra..will play the part of the contrebasse.. using his regular
orchestral full sized bass.
        This music is of special interest to bassists.. it is marked in
 the edition which we are using, Durand of Paris, as scordatura for the
bass, using different tunings for each string. However, when we have
practiced the music, we find that standard tuning gives the most
harmonically accurate results. The notation is for the actual note
written sounding one octave lower in the concert tuning of a standard
bass. During the second part of the piece (performance time 4 min.),
Roussel wrote many harmonic tones to be played by the bass. Dennis James
has found the right fingerings for every harmonic, using the standard
tuning of his orchestral bass.
        I wonder if other bassists on this list have played this work, and have
any comments to add about the interpretation of the scordatura question,
the harmonics and their experience playing the work?
        And I would be interested to find any professional recording of this
duo on CD, vinyl disc, or tape. Thanks for any feedback. All the best,
Sincerely, Gerald Corey


End of list V1 #22

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