Vol. 1, No. 10

| |
| @@@@@ @@@@@ @@ @ @@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@ @ |
| @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ |
| @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@@@@ @ @ |
| @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@@@@ |
| @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ |
| @@@@@ @@@@@ @ @@ @ @ @ @ @ |
| |
| @@@@@@@ @ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@ @ |
| @ @ @ @ @ @ @ |
| @@@@@@@ @ @ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@ @@@@ @ |
| @ @ @@@@@@@ @ @ @ |
| @ @ @ @ @ @ @ |
| @@@@@@@ @ @ @@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@ |
| Contrabass-L: a list for discussion of contrabass *anything*|
|To subscribe, email gdgreen@crl.com with "subscribe contrabass"|
|in the subject line |

Vol. 1, No. 10 28 June 1996

EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to Paul Lindemeyer and Alan Solomon, new subscribers. This brings the list up to 16, including me.

From: "Paul S. Johnson" <john0058@gold.tc.umn.edu>

Subject: Recent additions

Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 20:50:16

> As mentioned above, I spent all day yesterday in LA examining,
>playing, and ultimately buying three sarrusophones.

So who in the world would have six sarrusophones hanging around in their shop?

What are the circumstances of your purchase? Did you buy them from a sarrus-o-nut? How did you find out about them?



Thanks, Paul

I found out about them from Al Rice, the currator of the Fiske Instrument Museum at the Claremont Colleges. Al is a professional appraiser, and had appraised this collection (which also includes three rothophones, a Heckel contrabassoon, and around 30 other instruments), which belonged to the late Milt Marcus. MM was apparently a professional musician in the LA area, and played for Disney and various orchestras and studios. He died about two years ago, and his widow is selling a few of the instruments.

Al stumbled across my web page, and emailed me about the collection.

It was all downhill from there ;-)

They still have an EEb contra, which could probably be fixed up, if you're interested. It was the least expensive horn, in terms of their asking price. (When I say "they", I mean Mrs. Marcus and her son Lyn, who is handling all the transactions for her.)


Date: Fri, 28 Jun 1996 10:05:08 -0400

From: PaulWalto@aol.com

To: gdgreen@crl.com

Subject: Please subscribe me to Contrabass-L.


Please subscribe me to Contrabass-L. (And tell about your BBb contra sarrusophone if you haven't already!)

Thanks for the tips on CD's and stands. I'll follow 'em right up!

Bass-ically yours-

Paul Lindemeyer



Consider yourself subscribed! And welcome aboard!

The BBb contra was made by Evette & Schaeffer, and stamped with the Buffett Crampon seal), and is a beautiful brass-gold colored horn. It had dropped a key post, so it was difficult to play when I went to try it out. I finally taped the loose keys closed (basically LH2&3). There were a few reeds in the case that worked after a fashion, although they didn't fit on the bocal very well (obviously not made with a mandrel of the right size). The tone quality is between bassoon and contrabassoon. At least, it is at present. I haven't had much time to honk on it... yet.

All of the sarrusophones have a bunch of thumb keys. The bass-contra range all seemed to have 3-4 keys for the left thumb, and 1-0 for the right thumb. All of them had a key pad each for LH 123 and RH 123, with 3 keys for LH4 and 2 keys for RH 4. RH 1 also had 3 additional keys, which correspond to Bb and C alternate fingerings (as on a sax), and one altissimo key (which one, I haven't figured out yet). On all of the horns, one of the left thumb (LT) keys was for the lowest Bb, and the rest were octave keys (yep: three octave keys). Apart from the thumbs (and the lack of automatic octave keys), the rest of the fingering seems pretty sax-like. The low (written) C is LH123|RH1234, as on any sax. Eb uses the other RH4 key, and even has rollers just like the sax C-Eb key set, in the same arrangement (C on the bottom, Eb above). The LH4 keys are similar to the sax, at least in logic. The lowest of the three closes the low B vent, the middle one opens the C# vent, and the top key opens the G# vent. These keys, on all of the horns, were simple keys without rollers, shaped more like the octave key on a soprano clarinet than anything else. If you moved the low Bb key from LT to LH4, and arranged them in a platform, you'd basically have the sax key set up (for LH4, at least).

I suspect that two of the keys (one thumb key and one of the RH1 keys) are altissimo keys, like the LH palm keys on the sax, and that they cover high D and Eb. This will take a little experimentation.

Re: S. Bechet

My CD liner notes indicate that "Mandy" was recorded in New York, so I'm inclined to agree with your comments about the EEb's availability in the US. The notes also refer to the instrument as a bass: however, it appears that the EEb is often referred to as an "Eb bass", so that there are Bb bass, Eb bass, and CC and BBb contrabass. I'd previously thought that Bb bass was likely, as SB played bass sax early in his career. Since all his recordings use Bb instruments (Bb clarinet, Bb soprano sax, and a single recording on tenor, plus early work with the Bb bass sax), I thought Bb bass sarrusophone might be more natural for him. On the other hand, I also assumed that the instrument was probably borrowed.


Subj: Projects

1) The discography

Annotation is definitely the way to go. The concept I have in mind is to make an HTML table of CDs/LPs by instrument, with the CD titles linked to separate pages that describe the details. To me, there are few things more frustrating than tracking down a rare CD (or a CD of a rare instrument) only to find that it is practically inaudible throughout the recording. I want to include at least a fair warning of such cases.

2) The composers' guide

Now this is an excellent idea. I reread Piston on Orchestration not too long ago, and noticed that he had little to say about the contrabassoon and heckelphone, and basically nothing about any other contra-range instrument. An on-line guide to the characteristics and potentials for contra instruments would be a real resource, particularly if we include some of the extended techniques unique to the horns. I suppose I can start with the sarrusophones, as soon as I can start playing them...


End Contrabass-L No. 10

Back to Index

Next Digest>