Contrabass Digest

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list                           Tue, 28 Jul 1998           Volume 1 : Number 44

In this issue:


Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 01:34:03 CDT
From: "Gregg Bailey" <>
Subject: Here we go...


>Ok, I'm going to take my chances and say that that last post was the longest
>List ever!  Grant, Can you confirm that?

        I'd guess that THIS volume is the longest!

>Oh, in response,
>I am 13 years old.

        I can see that MANY have joined since I was last with the list!

>I have a feeling we are entering a succession of VERY long posts.
>Should be interesting.

        Oh, yes, as long as I have input!!


>This is kind of a "just for fun" question:
>What instruments can really make things vibrate?

        I know of one and only one--the pipe organ!  Although, I have noticed
that for some reason, when you turn on many more stops in addition to
the low ones, the low tones don't seem to have the resonance and shake
that they do when played all by themselves.
        Can anybody else relate?

>(by the way I'm 13 yrs. old,in response to a past post)

        Thanks!  I'm glad to know of all these young people like me!

Mr. Katz,
        I know a Ben Katz who is into contra clarinets!  Any relation?

In response to interest in 3D, I actually
take an interest in the 4D!!  Just think about it.  I'll refer to a 2D
person as a flatlander.  When the flatlander's universe is put inside
ours, the flatlander knows nothing of the direction perpendicular to his
plane universe.  So, what directions are we unaware of?
        To the flatlander, the most complete shape, that created with a radius
going in all possible directions, is the circle, and the flatlander
can't imagine the radius going around the center in any other direction.
To us, it's the sphere.  What is it in 4D?
        Here's a bizarre thought:  a point takes up no room on a line; a line
takes up no room on a plane; a plane takes up no room in space; so in
what does space take up NO ROOM??????


>I hear about bass-family clarinets with ranges to low C. I've never seen one.
>Where do they put the extra keys?

        It depends on the brand.  I believe that most have the lowest 2
operated by the right thumb, and low D operated by a sixth right pinky
key, located above the low Eb key.  I think that most have an alternate
fingering for low D, referred to as Double D; some put this key with the
other 2 right thumb keys; others have it below the left hand low F key.

        List, someone at school told me that the WWand BW is selling a
completely straight bass clarinet.  Is this so???????

Mr. Tikker,

>The reason that clarinets higher than the soprano in Eb aren't written for
>more frequently is that these instruments, e.g. the Ab clarinet, are
>extraordinarily rare, at least in this country.

        It's too bad.  In pipe organs, there is so much variety, and in ones
nearing 100 ranks, pretty much everything imaginable is there.  But with
the band, instruments that SHOULD become popular and written for don't, so the usual *7 ranks of pipes* in the band (clarinet, flute, saxophone, oboe,
bassoon, french horn, and saxhorns) never increases.  It's like if you
went up to an organ, and you had 100 stoptabs, but 14 were duplicated
Trombones, 14 were duplicated flutes, etc...

>A contrabass clarinet with a bore compoarable in scale to a 32' organ pipe
>would be a formidable piece of machinery!

        Well, the tube of the instrument is 8' long, so compare it to the
lowest pipe of the 16' Doucaine.  I don't know--I've never seen the
Doucaine pipes before.  What does Doucaine mean, anyway?  It's an
extension of the Cromorne/Krummhorn.

> Actually, it might be
>acoustically unstable.  Organbuilders tell me that half-length cylindrical
>reeds -- i.e. clarinet-type resonators -- are especially difficult to
>voice.  Sometimes 32' reed stops are made this way, but it's realtively
>rare -- the flared-resonator reeds are more common in this range.

        Are you referring to half-length flared resonators?  These are a bad
idea, because it's a false tone.  The resonator doesn't reinforce any
fundamental.  If you've ever heard a trumpet player buzz a 16' tone into
the trumpet, that's a false tone.  On the other hand, the half-length
cylindrical resonator is completely valid; it's just like a stopped flue pipe.

>course, the thing with organ pipes is that you have one per note, whereas a
>clarinet is built to produce several in one resonator via a key mechanism.

        Ya, that's another reason I like the pipe organ so much!

[Boehm Bassoon]
>He then
>said that he actually played such an instrument, at the museum of the
>Heckel bassoon factory in Biebrich-am-Rhein, Germany.  He then said "it
>wasn't a bassoon!"  He said that the instrument worked very well indeed,
>but had been so transformed in the process that it really had become a
>completely different instrument, which must be why it never caught on.

        It couldn't have sounded bad!!  In fact, maybe it sounded even better!
Change isn't a bad thing, especially if both instruments become widely
used, like with different names or something.

>Curved soprano saxophones sound quite different from straight sopranos --
>the curved ones sound just like little altos.  I imagine the same is true
>at the lower end.

        Well, why do the curves change timbre?  What about when you miter a
flue pipe, or you coil a bassoon pipe?


>I need to reduce my inventory of stuff, so the following items are for sale:
>1 Conn fiberglass sousaphone body and bell in good condition (with portions of
>the valve section that are in poor condition) - $40

        Whoa--a whole tuba for $40????  Can it be fixed to decent condition?

>Take all of the above for $125!

        How can you get rid of these for SO cheap?


>I own several antique organ pipes.  (These turn up at flea markets occasionally
>because when an old organ is torn down with a church, members of the
>congregation sometimes take home pipes as souvenirs.

        Our church did that; I took home a tiny one, a larger one, and a 4' D#
Principal!  The big pipe is in one corner of my room; when I used to
have the toe end up, newcomers to my room would think it was a missile!

>When I buy a big one, I can
>expect at least a dozen people to stop me and ask me about it as I lug it to the

        What's the lowest pipe you own?

  (The tenor sax is about 54 inches of
>pipe--body plus neck, not counting the mouthpiece--if it were unbent; but
>because not all of the bell functions as speaking length, its lowest Bb is the
>approximate equivalent of a 4' C on an organ.)

        What do you mean that not all of the bell functions as speaking length?
        Thanks for the advice regarding your pipe!
        I do want to bring up something, however.  Your pipe is a flue pipe,
much like the flute of an orchestra.  The method in which such flue
tubes are sounded offer no resistance.  That's why a tuba player
familiar with the flute nearly passes out trying the relatively tiny
bass flute.  The reed on reed instruments offers alot of resistance;
this is especially evident from the oboe player who actually has to
EXHALE a puff of air after playing a phrase.
        Have you ever tried producing a note in a large reed pipe?  I haven't.
However, I feel that the low end of the clarinet pipes are also always
to narrow; they don't have the pretty timbre of the mid-range.


>The tone of a clarinet is not a square wave,not even that of a
>virtual"perfect"clarinet of any shape.It does however have in common
>with the square wave the fact that it contains only odd harmonics.

        Huh?  If a tone only contains odd harmonics, how can it be anything
other than a square wave?  I do, however, understand that most Bb
clarinets, and ONLY Bb clarinets, have what's called a polycylindrical
bore (not completely cylindrical in one section).  In a book, I have
seen 2 waveforms of the same note produced on 2 different clarinets.
They looked completely different, but neither one was anything
resembling a square wave.  Further down on the page, one of the tone's
harmonic structure was broken down.  As it turns our, some of the even
harmonics had considerable strength.  I believe this is due to the
poly-part of the "polycylindrical" tube.

>What about 19-tones per octave instruments?Time to ask,is there anybody
>more than me here dealing with(well,planning to deal with)microtonal
>music or intelligent electronic instruments?

        I would like to give the world a scale that is very logical and easy to
hear, such that all intervals in all keys are harmonius.  This
supposedly cannot be done.  After all, the graph of harmonics is linear,
while that of tempering an octave is parabolic, and you can't conform
one to the other.

Mr. Tikker,

>On cylindrical 32' reed resonators for a pipe organ:

        What are such stops called?  Contrabass clarinet?????  ContreKrummhorn?

>One builder just gave me these diameters for the following pitches:


>32' C has a diameter of 109 mm (= C an octave below the lowest note on a
>standard piano);

        I don't know what the bore of the ONE octocontrabass clarinet is.

>16' C is 81 mm (= lowest C on a standard piano);

        I guess Selmer's contrabass clarinet has a bore of about 33 mm (it is
1.333"); much narrower than 81 mm!

>8' C is 61 mm (= low C on a 'cello).

        Their bass clarinet is .920" (about 20 mm?)


>8'C  = 2.4" - A bass clarinet with low D, typical bore size about .929-.945"
>16'C = 3.2" - A contrabass clarinet with low D, typical bore about 1.1-1.3"
>32'C = 4.3" - Octocontrabass clarinet, bore unknown.

        Well, there you have it, Mr. Tikker!

>If the mpc is that wide, I don't think I'll be playing one...


Mr. Grogg,

>Clarinet fingerings made little sense to me, when I
>did my time in the trenches as a school teacher my stock answer was "the
>fingering chart is in the back of the book, look it up".

!!  The main scale in the lowest register, the F scale (concert Eb) is
as easy as it gets--you just lift each finger successively.  Then you
have various keys for the in-between notes.  Above open G, there must be
keys to extend the chalumeau range upwards, because of the wide
overblowing interval.

        Well, that's it for THIS volume!
(Was that long enough?)
        -Gregg Bailey

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Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 23:49:16 -0700
Subject: Band in a box

Band in a box?
write to Joe Vento @:

I know he uses it, can answer anything you want.

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Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 17:49:00 -0400
From: "Farfl's House" <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #43

> Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 01:52:04, -0500
> To:
> Subject: Contra-fest video
> Steve,
> I have just looked at the master you sent.  My God, you are a video
> genius.  You have captured every aspect of the contra-fest.  Anyone who
> watches it will instantly want to register for the next one I am sure.
> I love the intro fades and audio fades that you did.

(*blush*..) Gawrsh, t'weren't nuthin', gee, fellers.......glad y'all like it........ this eating into my "fifteen minutes"?????
So nice to be appreciated,


End of list V1 #44

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