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Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 20:28:44 EDT
Subject: Hooking the kids (was: The Paperclip contra...)

Marty Meyer wrote,
>When I would take my contra on band tours, the little ones would always ask
what it was.  I would have them come up with me and sit right next to me on
the floor and have them feel the vibrations on the bottom of the bend.  Their
eyes would get so big.  And the sound -- they loved the sound, especially in
full concert.  I often wonder how many of those little ones fell in love for
life from just joining me for this magical moment.>

Yup, you're hooking those kids for life.  I'll never forget the first time I
not only heard but really felt a big bass instrument. I was about four.  My
Uncle Bill, a pro organist, invited me into the loft while he played a large
tracker. That's the kind of organ where you're sitting in the middle of it,
in a loft, with the pipes on the Swell, the Choir and the Great over your
head, the Positive behind you and the massive Pedal towers on either side.  I
got a lump in my throat reading about Marty Meyer and those kids, because my
Uncle Bill died Monday morning.

A shy, round-shouldered man who wore only dull colors, never liked to touch
anybody and rarely made eye contact, Uncle Bill (who married my mother's
sister) had a soft voice that he didn't use much, perhaps because he had no
native language.  "Equally inarticulate in six tongues at once," someone said
of him -- although anybody who leaned in and listened carefully to his
mumbled asides would discover a subtly wicked sense of humor.  He mostly let
the organ or the piano speak for him.  I'd heard him play the organ before,
but from down below, I couldn't see him hiding out among his pipes and didn't
appreciate that this quiet man (who could sit so still in the park that
squirrels would climb all over him to take nuts from his fingers, his pockets
and even his lips) actually commanded that bellowing brute of an instrument.

The first time he invited me into the loft, he played -- what else to impress
a kid? -- Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.  I could feel the bass rumble
right up through my body.  The floor vibrated, anything I touched vibrated,
even the air vibrated.  Watching him swarm over the four manuals while his
small, slippered feet pounded out the stupendous roar of pedals instantly
infatuated me with the pipe organ and the sound of bass, and probably lodged
the idea in the back of my mind that if he (of all people) could transform
himself into that monstrous noise, then maybe I could do it, too.

Years later, one Sunday morning when Uncle Bill played in a terribly reserved
High Episcopal church in New York City, my aunt and I, sitting primly in a
pew together, nearly choked on stifled laughter when we simultaneously
recognized the unstated theme of the baroque-style fugue he was improvising:
"The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out."  He also had a talent I never saw
him exhibit in public, for playing in one key with his left hand, a different
piece in a different key with his right hand and a third piece in a third key
with his feet, with a dreamy but mildly surprised expression on his face, as
if this cacophony had just happened by accident and he had nothing to do with it.

My husband thinks I bought the bass sax because I'm trying to acquire a pipe
organ one pipe at a time.



Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 22:02:49 EDT
Subject: Re: The bass oboe is back...(Selmer "Quantra"

In a message dated 8/12/99 12:32:22 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

 While we're at it, there's a Selmer contra at,
 advertised as a "quantra bass", but looks like a contralto to me.

It's a Vito Eb "Quantra", not a Selmer as advertised.
Most likely stolen from a school... and posted by someone who can't even
spell contra.
You'd be surprised at the number of people that walk into the repair shop
trying to sell Eb contras.  For some reason, they are a hot target for
Go figure.
I'd be careful bidding on this one..

Matt Hanson

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