Contrabass Digest

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list                           Wed, 9 Sep 1998            Volume 1 : Number 83

In this issue:


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 12:24:56 +0000
Subject: Double Contrabass Flute

I thought that members of the list might be interested in the following from the flute list digest of 13th - 14th August, 1998.  Perhaps when the double contrabass flute arrives we could persuade Paige MacDonald to record a little on it to post up on contrabass homepage.

Francis Firth

By the way, bass flutes are not that big in the grand scheme of things.  The range is about the same as an alto sax.  There are contra-bass flutes - an octave below a bass.  There is even a double contra-bass two octaves below a bass.  There is one contra-bass in North America.  Paige MacDonald has it.  She's local here.  She has ordered a double contra-bass - due in October.  It will be one of 3 or 4 in the world!

Phil Sobolik                        781-862-8719 x111
Wrightsoft Corporation              781-861-2058 Fax
394 Lowell Street, Suite 12
Lexington, MA   02173     


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 08:06:34 -0200
From: (Timothy Tikker)
To: <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #82: Bass clarinets to low C

I was surprised to read about the band director wanting a bass clarinet
going to low C.  Is there any standard band literature which has parts
going that low for the bass?  Or does he want to use transposed bassoon
parts (thus going to that pitch, low concert Bb) for it?...

- Timothy Tikker


Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 08:07:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Low C Bass clarinets

I think that the band director who insists on a low C bass clarinet for
your daughter is utterly out of line.  The request is absurd. Such
instruments are required only for very new band and orchestral music and
the occassional Russian chestnut in the orchestral literature.  They run

You can generally make do with a low Eb bass clarinet; in 30 years of
band playing I have only twice encountered notes below Eb, and these
could be managed with a cardboard tube in the bell.

Buffet, Selmer, LeBlanc, Yamaha, Amati make these; avoid the latter 2.
Most pro players use a Buffet or Selmer.  Unless your daughter is
SERIOUS about bass clarinet, keep away.  I have owned three, all nice
instruments but costly.

BTW, the low C bass clarinet is mentioned in Rimsky-Korsakov's
Principles of Orchestration from 1890ish.  It remained exclusively East
European until after WW2.

Robert Howe


Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 08:54:04 -0500
From: Jean Adler <>
Subject: low C bass clarinets

I am the owner of  a Buffet Bass Clarinet extended range professional
model.  Keep in mind that I have been playing for nearly 30 years and
have only had the instrument for a year and a half.  Unless your
daughter plans on playing for the rest of her life this would not be a
great investment.  My bass cost $5,000 and generally retails for close
to $8,000.  I will never make what I have in it.

I would question why he feels she needs the extended range.  I think I
can count on one hand the number of times I have played to low C.  Like
one of the other respondants said perhaps he is transposing bassoon

I have always been provided with an instrument by the school I was
attending.  It has been my experience that most band directors know very
little about the more "unusual" instruments.  I myself am a former band
director and would be thrilled to have a daughter as serious as yours
playing for me.  However I would never make such a request.

If you feel the need to spend that much money I would recommend a
Buffet.  My horn has great tone quality and plays very well in the high
range.  The only part of the instrument I have problems with are the b,
c, and c sharp (the Long tones).  They are sharp and a bit fuzzy on my
instrument.  It has something to do with the register key.  I played an
extended range Selmer in college but didn't find it to be as
responsive.It also seemed cumbersome.  I own a LeBlanc soprano clarinet
and like it just fine.  I tried the LeBlanc basses and thought they were
poorly made.  My friend Fred who plays with the Minnesota Orchestra
swears by his Yamaha, although I have never tried one.

Sit down with the director.  Or better yet give him my email address and
I will "speak" to him.

Best of luck to you and your daughter.  Those of us who play the bass
clarinet seriously are hard to come by.  I always joke that we are the
Rodney Dangerfields of the music world...We don't get any respect.

Jean Adler


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 10:19:41 EDT
Subject: Re: Low C Bass Clarinet


Over the past 3 years that I've been a member of the KLARINET mailing list,
the pros and cons of low C bass clarinets have been discussed VERY thoroughly.
If you'd like to read all the posts regarding this issue, log on to  You'll have more information on clarinets than you
could ever possibly want.

I currently play on a Selmer Paris bass (to low Eb), Bundy contra alto
(Charles Bay's horn of choice), and Leblanc contra bass (to low C).  Trying to
objectively summarize the recent posts to KLARINET, the low C Selmer has
traditionally been the most popular bass clarinet (totally subjective
opinion), but I understand that the NEW Buffet is quite a fine instrument.

As always, before investing upwards of $5,000 in a new horn, I'd sure find a
good teacher/professional player to help you and your daughter find the horn
that's right for her.  I know of one low C Yamaha bass that was on Ebay last
week and didn't sell.  The owner is a professional player in Los Angeles who
can be reached at  He was asking about $2,500 for the horn.
He's selling it because he bought a new Buffet.

Please let us know the final result.

Don Gross
La Canada, California

p.s.  If you want to e-mail me privately, I'd be glad to give you more details.


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 11:03:20 -0400
From: Michael Cogswell <>
To: "''" <>
Subject: RE: list V1 #82: Bass clarinets to low C

Unfortunately, I'm severely musically impaired so I'm unable to answer your
question.  My daughter is the musician in the family.  I do recall that she
was unable to play some notes that the people with Selmer Bass Clarinets
could play.  (I think she said she played, but an octave higher is that
makes any musical sense.)  It wasn't a problem with her ability or her
instrument, simply that the Selmers had a wider range.
Apparently her band director likes bass instruments.  He has had her play
the band's contrabass clarinet on several pieces and recently had their
contra-alto clarinet overhauled so she could play it as well.  (She loves to
play both types of contras, something her middle school band director
started her on four years ago.)  The bass clarinet remains her primary
instrument, the contras being used only on some pieces.

Mike Cogswell

> I was surprised to read about the band director wanting a bass clarinet
> going to low C.  Is there any standard band literature which has parts
> going that low for the bass?  Or does he want to use transposed bassoon
> parts (thus going to that pitch, low concert Bb) for it?...
> - Timothy Tikker

Date: Fri, 4 Sep 1998 04:11:56 EDT
Subject: Fwd: Tuba SOS!

In a message dated 98-08-17 23:01:34 EDT, writes:
<< Subj:         Tuba SOS!
 Hi All,
 I'm writing on behalf of Philip Frazier of the ReBirth Brass Band. Last Wednesday night he ran into a restaurant to get something to go and when he came out 15 minutes later his car had been stolen...with his tuba in the trunk. Everyone's been scouring the housing projects, checking the impound lots thrice daily, and generally been on the look out for his car but no dice. The police, naturally, have had the same (bad) luck.
 I remembered that you had written before and that you might have connections for used instruments, in particular, tubas. We're not looking for any rare antiques, which I also know that you're into.
 Philip would prefer an American made sousaphone this time around. He's pretty rough on his horn and it would be a lot cheaper to get replacement parts and service as needed. I'm not sure how much he could spend but the cheapest we've found was a used sousaphone for $3,000 and we just don't have that kind of money to spend immediately.
 Maybe, if you have time, you could e-mail some horn descriptions and prices. I want to organize a ReBirth concert where all the band members and myself would forgo making any money and put it toward a replacement horn. I can't tell you how grateful we'd be if we could get this resolved; not only is Philip having to turn down gigs but he's sick in his heart. That horn's been around the world with him.
 Anyway, any assistance you could offer would be much, much appreciated, not just from Philip, not just from me, but from the New Orleans Music Community at large. If you want to call Philip direct he can be reached at 504/462-6054.
 Nita Ketner
 Friend of Philip Frazier
 Manager, ReBirth Brass Band :-)
 Nita Ketner
 New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
 Nita Live On The Internet Every Tuesday!
 Check Out My New Orleans Music Show on WWOZ-FM!    (11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Central Standard Time)
 For recent playlists:
 Want To Know What's Going On In New Orleans & Louisiana Music? - Updated Daily!


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 09:24:31 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)
From: Frank D Diaz <>
Subject: RE: RE: list V1 #82: Bass clarinets to low C

Timothy, band Bass Clarinet parts to low C are becoming more and more common. These notes
can be found in new band literature being published now.

Frank Diaz


Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 09:30:56 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)
From: Frank D Diaz <>
Subject: RE: Re: list V1 #80

I tried the low G clarinet at Lark in the Morning, and I agree it is not that good. You
need incredibly long fingers to play it. The open G was so flat, that it's completely
useless. Also, notes above high C (Th. and Reg.) were really out of tune, even with proper
Albert system fingerings. I've heard that some German makers supply low G clainets. Does
anyone know about these ?

Frank Diaz


Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 12:42:52 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #82: Bass clarinets to low C

At 08:06 AM 9/9/98 -0200, you wrote:
>I was surprised to read about the band director wanting a bass clarinet
>going to low C.  Is there any standard band literature which has parts
>going that low for the bass?  Or does he want to use transposed bassoon
>parts (thus going to that pitch, low concert Bb) for it?...
>- Timothy Tikker

In the SJWS, there are at least a couple of pieces each year that call for
notes below low Eb.  Not a large fraction of the pieces we do, but more and
more of the newer works call for that range on occasion.  As neither of the
bass clarinetists in our group has a low-C horn, I sometimes end up filling
in the missing notes on contra (frequently, the contra part doubles notes
in that range anyway).  I think a slightly higher percentage of my contra
parts call for notes below low Eb.

I do find it unusual for a band director to suggest that she go out and
*buy* one.  My high school and college provided bass clarinets (and other
instruments) for students, including Selmer low C basses: nobody was
expected to have their own.


Grant D. Green             Just filling in on sarrusophone
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