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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 email@example.com 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.
From: A Myers
To: Francis Firth
Subject: Re: Cimbasso
Date: 10 April 1997 15:16
> it would appear that
> Cimbasso meant different things at different times
I'm sure this at least is correct !
Sorry, I don't have time just now to re-read Meucci's excellent article and comment any further - list members who are interetsed should do this for themselves anyway !
tomorrow I shall be at Orsi company. I forwarded your email to them by fax but I don't know if we can answer you within a few days.
Since I shall be in Germany next week I get the information for you and answer as soon as possible.
We appreciate your interest. Please feel free to ask whatever you want to know. We shall try to give you an answer.
There was another thing I wanted to tell you, which I found funny. Yesterday I called a gentleman interested in the contrabass saxophone. He thought that the one shown in Frankfurt was the last one ever built. He did not know that we still do them and wanted to by what he thought to be the last one.
We still have in our plant also another prototype of the contrabass saxophone (the one we made earlier). Unfortunately it looks quite shabby, so we don't take it out of the company any more.
I had the idea to show some of the old instruments made by Orsi in an itinerant exibition. It's a pity that those instruments are seen only by very few persons. I thought about contacting the responsable of the Nürnberg "Germanisches Nationalmuseum" to see how to do that and to check if they are interested.
I enclose two pics of the clarinet.
With best regards,
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