Vol. 1, No. 12

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| 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. 12 1 July 1996

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today we welcome new subscriber Arnold Myers, Honorary Curator, Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. Welcome aboard!

From: Alan Solomon

Date: Jun 29, 1996

ok, so i thought that i wouldn't be posting, anyway TUBA is still alive and doing things, i'm a tuba player as i said yesterday, but not a member of it. (i should be, but i don't have extra money). you can get TUBA info at their official web site at http://library.cmsu.edu/tuba/tuba.htm (no L after the htm, dos i guess) i live in NY but not in the city, so no luck from me as a new yorker. (although a contrabass tuba would be really cool to play). Grant, that's how i'm learning bass bone, over the summer, with a bit of lessons from my tuba teacher, (who's really a trombonist) the tromboon sounds interesting, maybe i'll ask the local bassoonist at my school about it. Anything else? ohh, my brother, i'll see what i can convince him to do, i have a shell account on rupert, (the computer at MHV my ISP) and i get my mail on it, maybe i could convince him to give you an account, and you could run listserv or something on it. Depends on how much of a good mood he's in at the time.

and thanks for the info on fingerings, makes sense, but i like the 1 finger 1 valve idea, (except on trombone, just kinda finding positions)_

Alan Solomon

X-POP3-Rcpt: gdgreen@mail

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 1996 11:58:51 -0400

From: PaulWalto@aol.com

Subject: Bb/BBb BBBrouhaha: Double or nothing?

Grant et al.:

The talk about Grant's new BBb contra sarrusophone has caused me some confusion.

What's the rule for determining if a Big Instrument is "double" BBb, CC, EEb or whatever?

One used to hear the bass saxophone referred to as a BBb horn. (I believe the book Musical Wind Instruments refers to the bass sax as "correctly contrabass.") If the Bb bass sarrus has the same range, wouldn't the BBb contrabass actually be in BBBb?

A few more questions for you all to chew over:

*** I have read that extreme low-frequency strobe lights (15-20 cycles) can cause epileptic seizures. Is a similar danger posed by extreme low-frequency musical tones?

*** Insomniac that I am, I have often lain awake at night wondering about 64-foot organ pipes. How many exist? How big around are they? Are they folded in half? What do they sound like? Is there a 128 foot organ pipe? Why?

Just asking. ;)

Paul Lindemeyer (PaulWalto@aol.com)

I had previously thought that "BBb" etc. was an indication that the instrument sounded an octave lower than written. Of course, you never see it applied to bass clarinets, tenor sax, etc. Maybe it's an indication that the instrument sounds TWO octaves lower than written?

As far as I know, the epileptic effect from strobes is entirely an optical effect (just like glare can give me migraine headaches...). I think we tend to experience ultra-low tones more as rhythm than as an actual sound. On the other hand, I seem to remember reading somewhere that extreme low-frequency rumbling can invoke fear and anxiety responses in people (maybe that's just Californians...).

I think 64' pipes must be getting down toward the threshhold of pitch perception: at some point, you hear individual pulses instead of a tone. 128' pipes (aside from needing a really high ceiling) might be mainly below the level of pitch perception. Anyone else? Ideas?


From: A Myers <ezhm01@tattoo.ed.ac.uk>

Subject: Re: The Galpin Society

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 96 19:40:09 BST

Dear Grant Green

> ago. I'll be posting my membership application on Monday.

This is good news. I rather share your enthusiasm for swimming at the deep end and I've signed up for the list you mentioned, and look forward to following any discusssions.

One day you might like to add a link to pictures of two of my instruments:

in the Electronic Picture Gallery to be found at URL: http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/

Thanks for getting in touch.

Arnold Myers

Arnold Myers, Honorary Curator,
Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments,
Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Square, EDINBURGH EH8 9AG, Scotland
Fax: +44 (0) 131-650 2425 (Faculty of Music)

The Galpin Society is dedicated to the study of musical instruments. To quote their page:

"The Society was formed in October 1946 for the publication of original research into the history, construction, development and use of musical instruments. Its name commemorates the pioneer work of Canon Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945) who had spent a lifetime in the practical study of old instruments, in collecting them and recording their history."

I just ran across their page this weekend, at http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/galpin/ (from the link on Scott Hirsch's page at http://www.windworld.com/ .

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 1996 23:14:58 +0200

From: Hans Mons <Hans.Mons@IAEhv.nl>

Subject: Contra. Great Bass Shawms

Today I visited the "Dag van de oude muziek" (Early music day) that is helt every year in the castle of Alde Biezen in Belgium. There was a lot of good early music to enjoy. AND, there was a shawm ensemble that used, besides the usual altos and tenors, two basses and a Great Bass Shawm. I heard them playing both outdoors next to the walls of a building and indoors in a hall. The sound of this ensemble was teriffic, especially when the Great Bass joined. Even playing outdoors, the sound of the Great Bass of an impessive volume. For me it was the first time that I heard a Great Bass Shawm in a life concert, and I liked it very much.

When listening, I was standing next to John Hanchet who is the maker of this Great Bass Shawm. He told me that he made in total 8 of these Great Bass Shawms. Part of these 8 was a series of 3. When these 3 were ready, he and three more people, have been playing shawm ensemble with a bass shawm for the upper voice and great basses for the lower three voices! Whaw, the sound of this must have been almost unbeleavable. When I heard this story my first thinking was: I like to do this myself.

Hans Mons

Keith Loraine, in Petaluma, CA, makes (or at least sells) a great bass shawm with range extended to low G. It apparently breaks down into several sections, and comes in a heavy wooden case equipped with wheels. The list price in the catalog I have (which may be out of date) is US$5,900. It is 9' tall assembled.

I've always thought the "low consort" an interesting concept. (E.g., instead of SATB recorders, using T/B/GB/CB.) I once suggested (by email) to the Nuclear Whales that they might like to try sax quartet music with T/B/Bs/CB saxes instead of the customary SATB. Never got a reply....


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

Subject: RE: Contrabass-L, No. 10

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 1996 23:43:31

>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...

The Piston book is probably the most commonly used text in orchestration courses. A orchestration book by Samuel Adler seems to be gaining some popularity (CDs with examples, is a major selLing point), but it too spends little time covering instruments that are less than ubiquitous. One interesting book I own, "Handbook of Instrumentation" by Andrew Stiller is a more inclusive book and takes an admirable step in the right direction by including all contrabass members of the different families of instruments. It includes excellent scaled, line drawings of all the instruments and score or recording references. It also explains additional extended playing techniques that are not included in other texts. Unfortunately, it still does not supply in-depth coverage and is more encyclopeadic in that regard (this is probably why he calls it an "instrumentation" book rather than an "orchestration" book). Typograhically, it is artfully layed-out and the technical drawings are beautiful - hence, a hefty price tag (over $100).

As an orchestration student and as one who has demonstrated the double bass for an orchestration class and played their assignments, I have seen both sides of the coin. The double bass is a considerably different beast than the other strings (some of which I play) and of the assignments I've played only 2 or 3 that were very idiomatic for the instrument. A good reference book for CB instruments (or any other less common instrument) could play a significant role in expanding the repertoire and visibility of an instrument.

Paul S. Johnson

The Stiller book sounds interesting. Anyone know where I could find one?


From: Francis Firth <Francis.Firth@uce.ac.uk>

Subject: Subcontrabassoon

Date: Mon, 01 Jul 96 10:32:00 BST


I saw the mention of this instrument in list 9.

There was supposed to be a Subcontrabass in B Flat made by Czerveny (sp.?) an octave below the contra and this turns with an honourable mention in many books but no surviving specimen has been found.

However, recently Jurg? Eppelstein published an article in Galpin Society Journal (I have the article so I'll check out the details) proving that this was merely a large bore contrabassoon (probably metal) and that it was called subcontrabass by a quirk of contemporary nomenclature. Incidentally, Eppelstein was one of the sarrusophone players in the Sextuor de Sarrusophones at IDRS Frankfurt 1992.

What a disappointment!

The lowest contra I know about descends to low A Flat. I was shown a photo by the contra player of the City of Birmingham Symphony orchestra but do not remember who the owner was. The low A Flat was merely to improve the resonance and volume of the bottom A which it apparently did magnificently.

Francis Firth


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