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Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 18:06:13 -0700
From: Grant Green
Subject: [CB] China postponed again
This probably comes as no great surprise:
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 11:46:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Great Wall Concert Postponed !
Dear Grant Green,
As a result of the tragic events of last week, I am sorry to inform
you that the Great Wall concert scheduled for May 4, 2002 has been
postponed. While I believe that this concert could be even more
meaningful now, it is not possible to continue with the project in
the immediate future for a number of reasons including uncertainty
with the airlines, insurance, etc. In the coming weeks and months, I
sincerely hope that the state of our world will allow the concert to
be rescheduled for October 2002 or May 2003.
If you have registered and paid a deposit with Tour Arts, you will
receive a full refund in the coming weeks.
Thank you all for the enthusiasm you have shown for this project. I
has been a pleasure and inspiration to correspond with saxophonists
from all over our planet.
Don AKA Pod Leader
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 21:27:44 EDT
Subject: [CB] Squawks on Contrabass Clarinet
John Kilpatrick asks about avoiding squawks on his paperclip contrabass
clarinet, particularly from B to E in the second register.
Grant's advice is exactly right. The first place to look is a misadjusted
register key mechanism, with the upper key pad, or perhaps the throat Bb pad,
opening in the range from B to E. The Leblanc mechanism is insanely complex.
You can hardly figure out how it works, let alone how to keep all the strong
and weak springs working against each other in exactly the right proportions.
The adjustment is really a job for a professional repair shop.
A few other remedies for squawks (I guess you can't really call them squeaks
at this pitch):
Contra reeds almost all warp with a ridge down the underside. I think it's
because the bark prevents any expansion up, and thus the cane expands down.
It's vital to put the bottom of the reed on fine (400 or even 600) grit
wet-or-dry sandpaper over a sheet of glass or other flat surface and work
until the bottom is uniformly shiny where it contacts the mouthpiece table.
I buy the stiffest reeds I can get so that I'll have plenty of room to take
them down to the strength I like, which is as soft as they can be without
making a "flapping" sound on the low notes.
The reed also needs to be a tine bit narrower (maybe 0.2 mm.) than the
outside of the rails, so that you can move it from side to side in
microscopic increments to find the "sweet spot." You can do the narrowing on
the sandpaper or a fine-tooth file (mill bastard cut). After you do this,
take a tiny amount off the sharp corners with a fine nail file. (I use a
Revlon "Diamond" nail file, which is less aggressive than an emery board and
The reed has to wrap along the long lay of the mouthpiece. Therefore, you
need to position it so the reed tip is slightly above the mouthpiece tip (0.5
mm. or so). Any leak is sure to cause squawks.
You need to take a lot of mouthpiece into your mouth. Look at the mouthpiece
from the side, to find the spot where the reed separates from the rails.
Your lower teeth should be exactly under that spot.
You may need to forget about pointing your chin, as clarinetists are taught.
Instead, try a bassoonist's "Andy Gump" embouchure, dropping your jaw down
and back, and bunching up your chin. When the reed is soft enough, and you
use plenty of air, you can play with very little embouchure pressure.
You really have to play double lip (with your upper lip over your teeth), if
only to avoid getting your brains scrambled from the vibration. Your lower
lip should have about half of the red part inside your teeth.
If the mouthpiece is the original a Leblanc, it's probably gotten a lot of
wear, particularly since most of these instruments started out being owned by
school bands. You should definitely get the mouthpiece checked and probably
refaced to remove any gouges or warpage. I can't be very sanguine about new
commercial mouthpieces. The Selmers are wildly inconsistent, but at least
the inside is well designed and the material is good. They also need to go
to a refacer to be brought into decent playing condition. The alternative is
to get a handmade mouthpiece. Clark Fobes makes them, but he charges about
$250 for an Eb and nearly $300 for a BBb. If you're serious about the
instrument and will be playing it a lot, the investment is worth it. The
increment over a (non-refaced) commercial mouthpiece is only $100 -- hardly
noticeable compared with the cost of buying and refurbishing the instrument.
After all, it's only money, and you only pay for it once. After than, it
makes you feel good every time you play.
If your instrument is a BBb, it may have a wide or a "narrow" mouthpiece.
Leblanc changed from wide to narrow, I think, in the 1970s or perhaps early
80s. The wide version takes Vandoren contrabass clarinet reeds. The narrow
version takes Vandoren bass sax reeds. All Eb mouthpieces take bass sax
reeds. I'd stick with Vandorens. The only readily available alternative is
the orange box (formerly brown box) Ricos, which taste awful and play worse.
I've put a number of postings on the Clarinet bulletin board about playing
contra (which I did exclusively for a year in the West Point Band). If Grant
likes, I give the link addresses, or even post copies here.
From: "Jean Adler"
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 21:12:26 -0500
Subject: [CB] b.c. doubling
I play on a Buffet (but enough about my good fortune), have played Selmer
but didn't care for. However that is a few years ago and they are
constantly making changes to instruments.
As per setup. I have a Richard Hawkins mpc that I can play into the
stratosphere. First mpc I have ever tried that allows that. Rovner lig,
and 3.5 or 4.0 Carpen reeds. I almost hate to admit it but those plastic
bari reeds will allow you to play at the drop of a hat. The mpc is a bit
more shrill than the one that came with the horn. But it depends on the
type of music you are playing.
I have yet to play on a student horn that I like. Perhaps a Noblet by
Leblanc would work for you.
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 14:11:59 -0500
From: Jim Quist
Subject: [CB] The Prisoners of Swing - jazz timpani
The Jonathan Haas CD of jazz timpani is interesting, the timpanic
version of Hoagy Carmichael's Georgia is surprisingly emotive:
***End of Contrabass Digest***
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