Contrabass Digest

To subscribe or unsubscribe, email



Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 17:35:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: Adam Kent-Isaac <>
Subject: Contra Reed

Yeah, if you want a contra reed, I suggest going to any music store in
the area and having it special-ordered for you; this might take a
while. You could ask any bassoonist you know to make one for you for
something like twenty bucks. And, you could make one yourself, but you
need to know how.

Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at

From: "Bret Newton" <>
Date: Mon, 06 Sep 1999 12:50:47 CDT

Does anyone know of a good orchestration or instrumentation book that deals
with some of these instruments that we so often discuss, especially the
sarrusophone?  At the present I am looking at Adler's Study of Orchestration
and one called Handbook of Instrumentation.
Bret Newton

Get Your Private, Free Email at

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 14:39:04 EDT
Subject: Re: Contra Reed

I noticed a "tubist-at-large" was looking for a contrabassoon reed for
"experimental purposes".  I don't know if this is the same experiment you are
thinking of, but for the edification of our readers with access to both a
tuba and a contrabassoon, you should know that a contrabassoon bocal and reed
inserted into a tuba and played produces the most wall-ratling, mecha-fart,
blast of a sound you've ever heard.

This fact discovered playing in college graduation band several years ago.
It literally silenced the entire room.

Bassoon, Heckelphone, Sarrusaphone, Tromboon, and Contratubassoon,
Jonathan Carreira

Date: Mon, 06 Sep 1999 17:48:07 -0700
From: "Timothy J. Tikker" <>
Subject: Sarrusophone sighting


I've just returned from two weeks at Interlochen Arts Academy in
Michigan.  I was on retreat there between sessions, composing.

In the Giddings Concourse, a long corridor lined with display cases,
there are some instruments from a susbtantial collection, featuring the
work of Conn.

One such instrument was a contrabass sarrusophone... at least I assume
it was Eb contrabass, since I understand that was the only size that
Conn ever made.

The display card gave the date of c. 1900... it also spelled it
"sarrusaphone." (!)

The bocal was off, laying on the bottom on the display case.  The
instrument was silver-plated, some of the plating worn off.  At least
one pad had fallen out.

The only other s-phones I've seen in the flesh were those at the Met in
NYC - several sizes, French makes, but I don't recall for certain if the
Eb contra was among them.  Somehow, this Conn was smaller than I
expected... which is indicative, since it says something about what a
handy size it was for such a low-pitched instrument.

The curator of the collection is a John Beery, but I didn't take the
time to contact him and ask to see any more of the collection.  There
were some really choice pieces on display:  the original Sousaphone from
1898 or so, complete with upward-facing bell;  an elborately-engraved
trombone made for Pryor, plus a similarly engraved cornet;  two keyed
bugles;  unlabeled, but a case of smaller saxophones which included a
sopranino, curved soprano, plus what must have been F and Eb altos...


Date: Mon, 06 Sep 1999 18:07:41 -0700
From: "Timothy J. Tikker" <>
Subject: Double-bell euphonium


While in Interlochen, I found a Conn double-bell euphonium.  Long story,
but I wound up buying it!

It's in fair condition:  some dents, overall tarnish from exposure (no
case), much of the silver plate also worn off, one split in a tuning
crook, but otherwise intact and playable.

I don't have it here yet (wouldn't fit as carry-on, so a friend is
packing and mailing it tomorrow), so don't have the serial # handy.  But
it had a fair amount of engraving on the bell, including a woman's face
in a pentagon, underneath which was the serial #.

Anyway... any thoughts on what these things are worth once restored?
Also... what do I do for a case for it?!

BTW, I don't want to sell it now, so no offers, please.  I want to fix
it and learn to play it, since I'm a composer who feels a need to learn
brass technique enough to have a better idea of how to write for brasses
-- and all my brass-playing friends agreed that euphonium or baritone
would be the easiest.  Still, I understand that these double-bells could
be collectibles, and am curious to know what they're worth.

Also, forgive the naivete, but I'm puzzled at the function of the fourth
valve.  The fifth obviously switches to the smaller bell;  I was
surprised, since I had assumed this was for tuning purposes a la Sax,
but it turns out to be an alternate instrument, as it were, sort of a
tenor cornet versus the main bell's tenor tuba.  But I couldn't figure
out the fourth valve...

- Timothy Tikker

Next Digest ->
Previous Digest <-