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Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 16:03:08 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Re: [Contra digest]

>> I play a coiled Leblanc contra-alto clarinet and have never been able to
>> play any notes above high C.  Leblanc told me that regular fingerings
>> should work if the horn is adjusted properly, but I've had it adjusted
>> and high C is the limit. I'd be interested in any special fingerings you
>> come up with.

To some extent, it is just a matter of practice.  High C# and D I finger
exactly as on soprano or bass clarinet.  Above that, it helps to add RH3:
this switches the octave vent from the upper vent to the lower vent, and
makes the altissimo speak more easily.  Also makes D# a little stuffy, but
works well for E, F and F#.  Above F#, the timbre really sags (at least for

>> What is a Selmer D mouthpiece and how did you make it fit the Leblanc
>> horn?

My understanding is that the Selmer mpcs have a different bore than the
Leblanc horns, and won't work well together.  Perhaps switching to a
Leblanc or Woodwind mpc will help.

Regarding straps: the newer horns come with a neck strap, whose only
function is to keep the horn from falling over.  The strap ring is not
positioned so that you can hang the horn around your neck and play it:
instead, the entire weight of the horn is supported by the floor peg.  The
older models, however, have one or two rings, and can/could be played using
just a neck strap.


Grant Green  

Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 16:01:14 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: ContraSax

>> I have a question:  is the LA SAX company the only company that sells the EEB
>> contrabass saxophone?  And why is this instrument so expensive?  Does anyone
>> know of anyone that owns such an instrument?  Isn't there like a 6 month
>> waiting period on that horn.  If I had 37.5k I would definitely get this
>> horn!!!  It is a nice saxophone.

The contras are made by Orsi in Milan, Italy.  LA Sax distributes them in
the US, while (I think) Orsi distributes them everywhere else.  Other
companies have made them in the past (including Buffett, Evette & Schaefer
<which was acquired by Buffet many years ago>, etc.), but no others make
them at present.

Why are they so expensive?  (a) No competition, (b) made by hand, (c) low
demand, (d) who says that's expensive (compared to maybe a Heckel bassoon
or contrabassoon)...

NB: $37.5K is the list price - has anyone tried haggling with them?  What
is the discount price (if any)?


Grant Green  

Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 16:37:35 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Re: The Phantom Tuba

>Either that kid had the bottomless leather lungs of an opera singer, or he'd
>mastered circular breathing at age nothing-and-a-half, because Torpid Tim,

Probably neither, actually.  Most likely, you experienced that phenomenon
known as "Subjective Time Dilation by Sonic Abuse, Infant" (known to
laypeople as "screaming baby syndrome").  This effect is caused by various
forms of auditory discomfort, the pinnacle of which is typically the
whining and/or screaming infant.  One who experiences the effect notices an
absurd apparent prolongation of time: seconds seem like hours, while
minutes seem like weeks.  The effect is believed responsible for the
apparent ability of infants and toddlers to whine or scream for hours
without pausing to draw breath: the actual elapsed time is much less, but...

It is most often found in aircraft, and researchers have noted a positive
correlation between possibility of its occurrence and the length of the
flight.  On cross-country flights, the probability approaches 100% that a
Screaming Baby will be active within 20 feet of the listener.  If the
flight is inter-continental, the odds nearly insure that that a Screaming
Baby will be seated with two seats to either side, or directly behind one.
Prolonged exposure to multiple Screaming Babies can result in the gain of
*several years* of apparent age by the end of a flight.  It is a well-known
fact that parenting a Screaming Baby is the chief cause of parental gray

>I finished my walk-through, then stood clear to one side and listened.  I
>heard it again.  The sound came from back there near the middle, in the same
>place where I'd thought I heard it before.  It was never loud, never the
>Titan Blast-Master Industrial Tuba.  It sounded soft and mournful, like the
>ghost of a tuba slain by a falling piano in days of yore.  I walked back
>through *THE WHOLE FREAKING WAREHOUSE*.  I heard the tuba twice more, but I
>never did find it.
>I've concluded that there was no tuba.  So what did I hear?  A bizarrely
>magnified chair scrape?  The death-groans of the air conditioner?  In a place
>where a whining baby sounds like an oboe, what sounds like a tuba?  This
>isn't a trick question.  I have no idea.  Any theories?
Acoustics works against you, here.  Low pitched sounds are notoriously
difficult to localize, which is why tweeters are separated for stero
effect, but a single subwoofer suffices.  Here are my theories:



Grant Green  

Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 21:10:40 -0400
From: Robert Howe <>
Subject: Re: Helicons

Robert Howe said:
> >  I just bought a baritone helicon from a Manhattan dealer.  It is by
> >  Wurlitzer, in Bb (trombone range) and circa 1900.  All in silver, three
> >  valves.  A nice piece..... What did the EBay piece go for?
> >  Robert Howe
> Beautiful! Was it a baritone or tenor helicon? I guess the bell diameter and
> throat size would best determine that. The Pelitti baritone helicon went for
> $755 or thereabouts. I was making a mad scramble to try to sell a pair of
> cornets to help pay for it, but a very active weekend put the damper on that.
> There will be others.
> Cheers!

Mine has open notes of Bb F Bb D F (from second line bass staff up) so
it is in baritone range.  I wish I had bought it for only $755.


Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 00:51:42 -0400 (EDT)
From: Adam Kent-Isaac <>
Subject: Sidney Bechet

Adam Kent-Isaac

 Hey, I just thought of something. You know that Sidney Bechet
recording of Mandy? I wonder, if maybe he's not playing a sarrusophone
at all. In fact, I would assume that it is a bass saxophone or a
contrabass clarinet. After all, Bechet played Soprano Sax, a Bb
instrument, and the soprano clarinet, another Bb instrument. The bass
sax and contrabass clarinet are both Bb instruments and they correspond
to the Soprano sax and Clarinet that Bechet played.
 Also, the instrument he's playing has a very fat, round, and blubbery
tone, but it's very smooth and clear, unlike the Sarrusophone, bassoon
and Contrabassoon, all of which have haunting, reedy, rattling,
somewhat terrifying low registers. Whatever Bechet's playing is a
comical, kindly-toned instrument somewhat reminescent of a fat yet
jovial old man.
 In fact, I'd have to say that of low instruments, the tuba, bass sax,
and bass and contra clarinets would be the "Good Guys" while the
evil-sounding bassoon, contra and sarrusophone would be the bad guys
that always fall to their death off of some platform during a sword
 In other words, those low double reeds would not be ideal choices for
the kind of solo work that Bechet is going for, and definetely not that song.
 So, my basic point is, that I don't think Bechet is playing a
sarrusophone in Mandy. You guys can draw your own conclusions. But I'm
stickin' to my guns on this one.

Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free address at


Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 08:10:36 EDT
Subject: Re: The Phantom Tuba

Great story!
Sorta related...a guy selling a 1919 advertisement for the Wurlitzer Lyric Eb
helicon ... with a Phantom Tuba image! Apparently the adjacent ad was for a
raincatcher sousaphone! The Phantom strikes again!

Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 08:12:47 EDT
Subject: Fwd: The Phantom Tuba

In a message dated 7/20/99 8:10:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Heliconman

> Great story!
>  Sorta related...a guy selling a 1919 advertisement for the Wurlitzer Lyric
> Eb helicon ... with a Phantom Tuba image! Apparently the adjacent ad was for
> a raincatcher sousaphone! The Phantom strikes again!
>  Cheers!
Oh yeah....the URL.
Musta got spooked!


Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 15:15:27 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Ex Lingua Mortia
Hey Michael, nice picture!

Michael Jolivet appears in the current (Summer 1999) Tuba Journal (26:4),
with the group Ex Lingua Mortia, which comprises three double-belled
euphoniums, serpent/ophicleide, sarrusophone, and Eb helicon.

Any recordings?


Grant Green  

Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 15:20:24 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: CD Review



Grant Green  

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