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Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 16:14:48 -0700
Subject: sousaphone

I just started playing Sousaphone, and i was wondering if there's any
speficic technique to play really low notes (Below the 2nd E below bass
clef).  Any help would be appreciated.

It's all in how your teeth are formed.
I have an overbite, so I prefer to play with a stiff UPPER lip literally
holding the tuba (sousaphone) stable against my face under my nose,
using my lower lip to make all the range adjustments, while I use the
upper lip to help articulate. this allows my jaw to pull back or move
forward with ease. you need to know what works best for your teeth &

Someone else said to feel the back of your throat open like a yawn.
you'll find this uncomfortable at first & you may not wish to do it as a
beginner, but to get a really low balsy deep full bass sound it'll have
to happen. Get the fingerings & lung capacity first work on the things
that get the most success, iron out the fine points when you're hooked
on the instrument & can't wait to improve your tone. keep it fun.

lastly, go check out mouth pieces at the local music store. the one that
serves your schools needs is most likely to have a few tuba mouthpieces.
ask to play severall different types & sizes. it's like buying a car,
you want to test drive several. I play an old reynolds or a huge Vincent
Bach. I had the reynolds gold plated for comfort (it had lost most of
it's silver). for the LOWest notes I use the large mouthpiece simple as

Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 17:02:26 -0700 (PDT)
From: Adam Kent-Isaac <>
Subject: off topic (new bassoons)

I support the development of two new bassoons! A subcontrabassoon to
play the lowest notes of the orchestra,and a bassoon between the ranges
of bassoon and contrabassoon, which would be essentially an opera-style
contrabassoon. I also fully support the building of "reverse contras"
where the bell of the instrument, instead of going down and forward
like an elephant's trunk would go down, then back up and forward like a
bari saxophone.To project the low notes out!

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Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 21:02:03 -0400
From: Robert Howe <>
Subject: Re: Bassoon altissimo

Jim Katz, I Medici di McGill
Physician Orchestra
Montreal, Quebec, Canada,
..... one thing that does get my goat is the
> use of the tenor clef. Why write in that clef when most of the notes in the
> part are well within the practical notation for the bass clef. I, too,
> often see awkwardly written parts in the tenor clef whose notation would be
> much clearer in the bass.

It isn't easier in the bass, that's why composers use tenor.  Until
Finale came along, it was easier to print music within the stave than to
use ledger lines--in fact, this is true even with Finale.  Hence, the
treble, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass clefs were all used for
instruments of given ranges to simplify notation and keep the notes on
the staff.

I have no patience for "doctors" (you play in a physician orchestra...)
who can't do a simple thing like read tenor clef.  Spend a half hour
learning, and you will have the skill for life.  The notes are the same,
you just have to use your mind a little bit.

Robert Howe

Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 21:07:29 EDT
Subject: Re: off topic (new bassoons)

Well, i do agree with the subcontrabassoon you mentioned, but the bassoon has
such a wide range that it's not really nessecary to have two bassoons only
1/2 an octave apart (The Contralto Bassoon you mentioned).  I would make a
Altoon in C instead, an octave above the normal bassoon that plays in the
aproximate range of a bass oboe (Only with an ability to go much higher due
to the fact that it's a bassoon).  This would (IMHO) make a valuable
contribution to the orchestra.  Just my 2 cents.

Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 22:58:06 -0400
From: jim and joyce <>
Subject: bassoon design

Someone on the list wrote:
>>you should be glad such a chaotic design of
>>instrument is loved by so many. Any other instrument
>>designed from that area in time has either been re-designed or died

Has anyone designed a simplified (perhaps reduced range) bassoon?
what are the technical problems?



Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 22:04:11 -0700 (PDT)
From: Adam Kent-Isaac <>
Subject: bassoon writing


I think that the bassoon (as an instrument) is for the most part on its
way out, having been ousted as a bass instrument by the bass clarinet
because of that instrument's ease to play, and the fact that aplayer of
the b-flat clarinett can switch to the bass at an age as early as 7 or
8, while the bassoon really has no widely played small counterpart.
 It is really the one instrument that hasn't insinuated itself into the
realms of pop (except for rare recordings.) In the tenor register the
cor anglais has a more pleasing tone.
 So it might be a good idea to write some new pieces that require more
use of the bassoon's low register. Just because it is playing in the
low register does not mean it is easy or elementary. To say that music
which stays in one clef is simple is false; ask a violinist or flautist
who plays all  in one clef.
 A serious disadvantage of the bassoon is its inability to be played in
a consort, as in clarinets or recorders, flutes, oboes or strings
(which is why it would be wiser to build the bassoons ranging in
soprano to subcontrabass, although nobody seems to care about it enough
to try)
 At an early age children cannot be taught to play the bassoon, because
of its intimidating size, daunting keywork and lack of a simplified
student-level instrument. Often one must wait till high school to start
 Many methods written for the bassoon would probably be difficult for
young children to understand. Although the Weissenborn methods are
extremely useful in teaching, they are much too dry for young students.

 Nobody yet has taken a simplified approach to the teaching of the
bassoon. There are books available to teach clarinet, flute, sax,
guitar, cello, etc to kids which make it fun and interesting. The
bassoon is a flatly adult instrument, and it is very difficult, and
trying to apply Milde or Weissenborn to a student will make practice
akin to walking the dog or doing homework, which will inevitably cause
kids to switch to an easier instrument or quit music altogether.
 The bassoon reminds children of paper, of incomprehensible adult
language, of very hard work, of difficulty, of black-tie parties or
formal dinners. (I mean, it looks like a giant fountain pen. How much
more adult can you get???) In other words it is loathed by the young
because it is difficult.


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Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 08:14:28 EDT
Subject: Little people bassoons

I know of two bassoons with reduced keywork and a smaller body.  One is the
"Fagottino" by Moosman, it's retail price is $5,000 and sells for about
$3,300 at Giardinelli.  The other I know of is the "Quintbassoon" by Amati.
This is one is in the key of G (fifth higher) and is designed for little
people.  It's retail price is $2,500 and sells for $1275.00 at Woodwind and
Brasswind.  I imagine some of the German companies (Adler, etc.) have other
monstrosities like these.

Drew Emery

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