Contrabass Digest

To subscribe or unsubscribe, email



Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 17:17:26 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Bass Oboe

Meant to post this some time ago.  The 4th quarter 1999 issue of the Double Reed has a nice article by Janice Knight called "My Life with the Bass Oboe" (22:4, 1999), which is reprinted from the Double Reed News published by the British Double Reed Society.  She apparently wandered into Howarth's, encountered a new Lorée bass oboe, and took it on approval.  Within weeks, she was being asked to use it.

The article also mentions a number of works that call for the bass oboe: the "Triple Concerto" (for violin, viola and cello) by Tippett, the "Mass of Life" by Delius (which has a trio for oboe, EH, and bass oboe), "Dance Rhapsody No. 1" by Delius, "Fennimore & Gerda" by Delius, "The Planets" by Holst, "The Warriors" by Grainger, unnamed works by Marc-Anthony Turnage, John Caskin, Thomas Adés, and solo works by John Blood and Gillies Whitaker.

So, who bought the bass oboe at eBay?


Grant Green  

Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 14:12:29 EST
Subject: Does anyone know how much Howarths charges for Contra Sax hire?

I was reading through the end of Sax's biography when i noticed that Howarth of London owns a Contra Sax which they hire out. Does anyone know how much they charge?? I would rather not embarrass myself with a 'phone call ending with £100,000, per day (or something like that) being quoted.


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 15:55:13 EST
Subject: Big Bass Drum

Speaking of big bass drums, I just got a copy of a picture of the bass drums
used by Patrick Gilmore's 1000 piece orchestra for the National Peace Jubilee
in 1869. The picture shows 3 or 4 normal size bass drums as well as the giant
drum built I believe in New Hampshire. I have the information on it around
here somewhere. Also to be spotted are about 20 of the 100 anvils used for
the Anvil Chorus, which were played by 100 red shirted Boston firemen. The
anvils are pretty big, but I don't know what constitutes a "bass anvil". I'll
send a copy of the picture to Grant and with permission, post it to the list
if possible. I don't know the location of the drum today if it still exists,
but at the time, it was the world's biggest, as was the grand piano and
concert pipe organ that were built for the occassion.

Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 16:32:15 EST
Subject: Re: Big Bass Drum

I wonder if an unpiched instrument can acually be defined as bass, contrabass
etc. surly low and high would be better??


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 16:46:14 EST
Subject: Re: Big Bass Drum

In a message dated 02/09/2000 4:32:47 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

 I wonder if an unpitched instrument can acually be defined as bass, contrabass
 etc. surely low and high would be better??

Drum names that come to mind are the piccolo snare, tenor drum and of course
the bass drum. If you use low and high, then you need to be more accurate
with descriptions of how low and how high, and so you need the more
descriptive words. Toms and congas and other have a wide range of pitches
even though most them are on the medium low (baritone to tenor) or medium
high (tenor to alto) range.
CAN they be defined that way? Yes!!! Proof??? Someone DID, and it stuck!

Date: Wed,  9 Feb 2000 16:37:47 -0600
From: "Aaron J. Rabushka" <>
Subject: Re: Big Bass Drum

Note that the usage "bass drum" doesn't occur in some of the Continental languages. Thus we find various versions of "big drum" or "large case"--German "Grosse Trommel," French "Grosse Caisse," Italian "Gran Cassa." Note that in some of his scores Edgard Varèse calls for several sizes of bass drums.

Aaron J. Rabushka


From: "Mats Öljare" <>
Subject: Re:
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 23:28:25 GMT

>The tuning of the drum is probably more significant than its construction.
>I heard the National Symphony do the Verdi many years ago in Constitution
>Hall, and the percussionist had obviously tuned the bass drum precisely to
>the resonant frequency of the hall.  Awesome sound!

Tuning an instrument to resonate with itself probably is many times more
important than the size of it.

Mats Öljare
Get Your Private, Free Email at

***End of Contrabass Digest***

Next Digest ->
Previous Digest <-