Contrabass Digest

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list                           Sun, 20 Dec 1998           Volume 1 : Number 58

In this issue:


Date: Sun, 20 Dec 1998 01:02:22 +0200
To: <>
Subject: Sarrusophones

Does anyone have any ideas why the sarrusophone became extinct (or never caught on)?
Were they hard to play?
Is it true that absolutely no instrument maker manufactures them today?
Is there a picture somewhere of what the whole genus looked like, soprano to lowest contra bass?  Or drawings?



Date: Sun, 20 Dec 1998 16:58:50 -0200
From: (Timothy Tikker)
To: <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #58

Sarah Cordish wrote:

>Does anyone have any ideas why the sarrusophone became extinct (or never
>caught on)?

I understand that they had a chronic problem with treble weakness.  Also,
double-reeds may have been considered too much of a bother in military band
situations, for which the sarrusophone family was ostensibly designed.

However, the contrabasses did catch on to some extent in countries such as
France, where the French contrabassoon wasn't as satisfactory as its German
counterpart.  Some time ago I posted my translation of a French
orchestration text's description of the two instruments, in which the
author made it quite clear that he considered the sarrusophone the superior

I think that sarrusphones also were used in older recordings in this
country, as one of the instruments which older recording equipment worked
better with.  When I first heard a recording of a contrabass sarrusophone,
it brought back memories of very old cartoons I saw in my childhood, dating
from the '30s and '40s (well, my childhood was in the '60s, but they still
played that stuff on TV then!).  I gather that sarrusophones were used in
their music tracks.  On a recent CD of music from Warner Bros. cartoons
(The Carl Stallings Project vol. 1), one track has a prominent solo which
must be a contrabass sarrusophone.

- Tim Tikker


Date: Sun, 20 Dec 1998 18:07:10 CST
From: "Gregg Bailey" <>
Subject: Subcontrabassoon!

Regarding the *Subcontrabassoon*, I will quote from the 1994 Edition of
the Guinness Book of Records.  Under the heading "Highest and Lowest
Notes":"...In 1873 a sub-double bassoon able to reach B(sub)111± or 14.6
cycles/sec was constructed, but no surviving specimen is known..."
Where I typed B(sub)111, that means that the book has the "111" as a
subscript to "B".  The 1985 Edition notates this note as "B,,,#".  The
fact that the Guinness specifically identified the note and frequency
leads me to believe that there truly WAS such an instrument.  I can
understand Francis' explanation of the misunderstanding of the
contrabassoons in Eb vs. C, but I'm leaning heavily towards the idea
that there really was a subcontrabassoon.  I don't, however, understand
why it wouldn't still be around.  Can anybody explain the "±" or the "#"?
 So the B,,, isn't as good as the Bb,,,.  It's good enough!
Apperently, the bottom limit for human hearing of a pure sine wave is
just below 32' C (16 Hz).  Does anybody know anything more specific
about that?
 BTW, both Guinness' mention the "C,, or 16.4 Hz of the sub-contrabass

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