Vol. 2, No. 15

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Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 09:33:17 -0400 (EDT)

Contrabass-list Digest Volume 97 : Issue 15

Today's Topics:

Date: Wed, 09 Apr 1997 12:12:49 -0700
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
To: tradab@mbox.vol.it
Cc: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Contrabass Oboe


A quick question about the contrabass oboe: you have it listed as a sarrusophone? I would have thought that a contrabass oboe would have a somewhat different fingering system than a sarrusophone (e.g., forked F, different fingerings for Bb and C, etc.). I would also think it would have a different shape of bore (still conical, but at a different degree). Is the range to Bb below the bass staff (like the bassoon), or lower?

Just trying to understand. Thanks,

Grant Green

Date: Wed, 09 Apr 1997 12:12:29 -0700
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Orsi Instruments


our mail has crossed. I sent you mail about the contrabass oboe.

You wrote:

>Thank you! Actually, my wife is very interested in visiting Italy (as am
>I), and we hope to get there some time in the next 12 months. When we
>manage to actually schedule a trip, I'll write to get directions.

Though it's not imminent I'll give you my private phone number: ********* (phone and fax - answering machine when I'm not at home).

>I'm very interested in the instrument, and in the CD. Can you say what the
>price for a contrabass sax, delivered to the US would be? And I would
>appreciate any information regarding the CD (e.g., title, publisher, catalog
>number etc.).

The list price of the contrabass sax is 85.000.000 Lire in Milan/Italy (approx. 50.000 American dollars right now) minus 30 %, plus American taxes, plus shipment ecc.

As far as the address for the CD is concerned, it is:

Pfeffingerstrasse 47
CH - Basel

If you like, I could record it on a cassette and send it to you. I could buy the CD in Switzerland and keep it here for you, when you come to see us.

>C o n t r a b a s s O b o e
>I would greatly appreciate any
>information available on the instrument, for example, the key it plays in,
>its range, system of keywork (e.g., Conservatoire), how many were made and
>when, and if there are any recordings of them. I would love to hear one,
>and post a small sound clip on the web page.

As said I shall go to Germany at the next weekend and stay there one week. When I'm back I'll check if we can give you some information. We do have a big poster with the range of instrument (a beautiful old-fashioned poster, must have been made early in this century). We plan to reprint it. As soon as I have it, I'll inform you and I would be glad to send you one.

>And how much would a contrabass oboe cost today?

The price of the contrabass oboe (we call it double reed contrabass sarrusophone, laquered body, nickel plated keys) costs 38.000.000 Lire in Milan on the price list (22.350 dollars) minus 30%, plus American taxes, shipment ecc.

>I actually already have a reed contrabass: just haven't had time to record
>it yet. It would be interesting to compare the sound of your instrument to
>mine, however. I'd appreciate a recording, if it isn't much trouble.

My compliments! Not many do have a reed contrabass.

When you come to Milan you could play on our reed contrabass built in 1880. I'll see to find a guy who is able to play a few notes and shall send you a recording of it.

>I hope that you don't mind: I have taken the liberty of forwarding your
>message to the contrabass-list digest list, as many of the subscribers are
>interested in these instruments. If you would send me a price list/catalog
>of instruments offered by Orsi, I'd like to post that to the list as well.

You are wellcome to forward my messages wherever you like. By the way, could you put my email address on the list? I could give you the price list, but I have the problem that it is in Italian Lire and that shipment, taxes ecc. are not included.

Very truly yours,

Alfredo Bonamini


Date: Thu, 10 Apr 97 12:25:00 BST
From: Francis Firth <Francis.Firth@uce.ac.uk>
To: "'A. Myers'" <A.Myers@ed.ac.uk>, "'contrabass-l'" <contrabass-list@contrabass.com>, "'Renato Meucci'" <r.meucci@agora.stm.it>
Subject: Cimbasso

John Hensley writes that the Cimbasso was a kind of valved bass trombone in F but a recent article in Galpin Society Journal suggests otherwise.

In Galpin Society Journal XLIX of 1996 there is the following article: The Cimbasso and Related Instruments in 19th-century Italy :: RENATO MEUCCI - translated by WILLIAM WATERHOUSE ... 143.

Dr. Meucci's article is too detailed to summarise but it would appear that Cimbasso meant different things at different times but was more likely a tuba as Cimbasso may well have been an abbreviation of C'basso meaning Contrabasso. As this instrument was developed over the 19th century and the tuba (and valved trombone) were developed the type of instrument which would have been used to play C'basso parts changed as Dr. Meucci descibes with several dates and examples.

Nowadays these parts are often played on a bass/contrabass valved trombone but this is only historically accurate for some scores while being wrong for others.

Dr. Meucci may be e-mailed at r.meucci@agora.stm.it and will, no doubt, be able to give further details.

I am writing this from memory as I do not have a copy of the article in front of me but I hope that Arnold Myers of Edunburgh University, who is on this list and more of an expert on brass instruments and their many forms, will be able to correct any errors and also give his informed opinion as to scholarly organological opinion on Dr. Meucci's findings.

I'll send a copy of this posting to both of them.

Francis Firth


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