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list Thu, 29 Oct 1998 Volume 1 : Number 13
In this issue:
- Re: Players needed!
- Re: Players needed!
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 18:27:53 -0800
From: Grant Green <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Players needed!
>I used a lot of baritone sax on my last work, but grew frustrated as the
>instrument wasn't capable of reaching many of the notes I needed, making
>it necessary on several occasions to alter my arrangements! Had a
>contrabass sarrusophone or hecklephone player been on hand, I would have
>been able to get what I had wanted.
If you're looking for low woodwind notes just below the range of the bari
sax, your choices are basically:
- bassoon (Bb below bass clef)
- bass clarinet (if extended to low C = concert Bb below bass clef)
- bass sax (concert Ab below bass clef)
- bass sarrusophone (ditto)
- Eb contra clarinet (Gb below bass clef: to the Eb below if extended)
- Eb contrabass sax (2nd Db below the bass clef)
- Eb contrabass sarrusophone (ditto)
- Bb contrabass clarinet (ditto: down to the Bb below if extended)
- contrabassoon (lowest Bb on the piano, sometimes extended to A)
- C contrabass sarrusophone (lowest Bb on the piano)
- Bb contrabass sarrusophone (Ab below the piano)
Of these, bass clarinet is by far the most common, although the low-C model
isn't. To get below the bari sax, the most common horn would be bassoon,
followed by low-C bass clarinet, bass sax, Eb contra clarinet, Bb
contrabass clarinet, and contrabassoon, in roughly that order. Actually,
the clarinets are all probably easier to find than the bass sax, at this
point. The sarrusophones and contrabass sax are pretty rare, but not as
rare as the few flutes that play in that register: the bass flute plays
only a half step lower than the *alto* sax. You need a contrabass flute
just to match the bari sax (in pitch: few horns can match a bari sax for
volume): you're already heading into sub-contrabass flute territory, which
means you'd be writing for a particular individual.
BTW, heckelphone wouldn't provide you with any range below the bari sax: it
stops a the low A, first space bass clef. It may provide you with more
upper range, but you could more easily cover that end with oboe, alto or
I've been planning for some time to put up a scale with the ranges for all
these horns (along with a bunch of other really old projects...).
>Incidentally, can anybody tell me what the range of the bass sax is
>compared to the baritone, and a few details about its properties? I
>would imagine it's an enormous, unwieldy and forbiddingly expensive
If you want it to be, sure! Or, you can play it lightly and delicately:
the sax, of any size, is a pretty expressive instrument. You may want to
listen to a few of the Nuclear Whales works, for an idea of what one can do
with a bass sax (in terms of style and articulation - there's a lot of
avant garde material that the NW never go near). As for expense, the price
of a bass sax *new* is still a lot less than many comparable instruments.
WW&BW lists the new Keilwerth bass sax for US$9395, and the LA Sax bass
lists for US$16.5K, (Selmer makes one also, but I don't have a price for
it), but you'd expect to pay US$20-40K for a good contrabassoon, and
probably US$12-40K for a professional bassoon for that matter. Second hand
bass saxes have been seen for US$3-5K, sometimes less...
The range is essentially the same written range for all saxes: Bb below
middle C to the F above the staff. Transpose down until the low Bb hits
the Ab beneath the bass clef ;-) Many of the older bass saxes didn't have
keys for high E or F: one can still play those notes as altissimo, but you
may not want to rely on them unless you know the player and their
Grant Green firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 00:06:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Players needed!
>I used a lot of baritone sax on my last work, but grew frustrated as
>the instrument wasn't capable of reaching many of the notes I needed,
>C contrabass sarrusophone (lowest Bb on the piano)
>Bb contrabass sarrusophone (Ab below the piano)
>>Incidentally, can anybody tell me what the range of the bass sax is
>>compared to the baritone, and a few details about its properties? I
>>would imagine it's an enormous, unwieldy and forbiddingly expensive
In general, the range of a bass sax is about 5 feet shorter than a
baritone sax, depending on upper body strength of the person doing the
>it), but you'd expect to pay US$20-40K for a good contrabassoon, and
>probably US$12-40K for a professional bassoon for that matter. Second
>hand bass saxes have been seen for US$3-5K, sometimes less...
With all of the at length discussion about a lot of expensive woodwinds,
I am surprised none of you have yet reached the obvious solution, get a
tuba player! The tuba played properly, can easily go below all of the
listed reed instruments. G off the bottom of the piano is very easy to
reach, as is the Gb and F below that. More commonly available than a lot
of the listed instruments, and for the most part a whole lot less
expensive as well.
Resident Tuba list lurker.
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