Contrabass Digest

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Date: Sun, 04 Jul 1999 06:28:53 -0700
From: "Timothy J. Tikker" <>
Subject: [Fwd: from contrabass-l]

Dr H wrote:
> }From: "Aaron Rabushka" <>
> }Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 19:20:15 -0500
> }Reply-To:
> }
> }>Has anyone tried playing clarinet (or
> }>contrabassoon) while breathing helium?
> }
> }Would any reasonable, insane, or reasonably insane composer request this
> }effect?
> }
> }Aaron J. Rabushka
> }
>  Since he recognizes it as an "effect," it would seem he has answered his
>  own question.
>  BTW, I *have* tried it with Eb sopranino clarinet, Bb and A soprano clarinets,
>  alto clarinet, and bass clarinet, but not contrabassoon, I'm afraid.  The
>  effect is much more pronounced on smaller instruments, and those with smaller
>  bores.
>  I have also played these instruments with a lungful of carbon dioxide
>  and with nitrous oxide -- both of which have the opposite effect from
>  helium (pitch goes lower, then bends up).  I did this as reaseach for a
>  a compendium of extended techniques for the ancillary clarinets (though
>  mainly focused on the alto) which I compiled about 12 years back.
>  I noted then, and I note now, that unless one is writing "danger music"
>  one should be wary of writing long passages using this effect, or of
>  repeating it too frequently within a single piece.  There is a very
>  real risk of anoxia, and the player passing out (and nitrous oxide
>  produces certain "side effects" on the performer which may or may not
>  be desirable ;-)
> Dr H

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