Vol. 2, No. 45


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3 June 1997

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, we're back in manual mode. Hopefully for a short time...

Some posts were lost in the transfer to the new server/operating system, so if you sent a post, and it doesn't appear below, please send it again!



For anyone in the market, I noticed that WW&BW has just posted a used Gemeinhardt bass flute for sale ("Demo like new condition $2,495.00") and what appears to be a Vito Eb contra-alto clarinet ("Excellent condition $799.00") at http://www.wwandbw.com/ in their "Used Band Instruments" page (reached through the "News" button).


My apologies if this has been mentioned recently (the old gray matter isn't what it used to be), but I just ran across this one at Tower.

Robert Bobo's CD "Gravity Is Light Today" (1997, Crystal Records CD396), in addition to containing a lot of great tuba work, includes two pieces for bass horn (as in French Horn). The back of the liner notes has a picture of RB playing the bass horn (a suitable degree larger than the conventional Fr.Hn next to it), and says:

"The bass horn was built by Los Angeles brass-instrument maker Larry Minick with the parts (bell, valves, tubing, and metal) a gift to Roger Bobo from the Mirafone Corporation. Having contrabass instruments from all the brass families other than horn (contrabass trombone and contrabass trumpet), Bobo wanted to complete his collection with a representation from the horn family. As an instrument of beautiful sound and near-perfect intonation, this single five-valved bass horn in CC turned out to be far more than just the completion of an instrument collection."

The pieces featuring the bass horn are both by Roger Kellaway, and were written specifically for the this instrument (accompanied by French horn and piano, with RK playing the piano part):

Very lyrical and melodious. The bass horn sounds (surprise!) a lot like a tuba: the difference is pretty subtle. Apparently with the range of a CC tuba, but predominately cylindrical tubing, it is a much more compact instrument than a CC tuba (just as the F contrabass trumpet is much smaller than the F tuba).

Perhaps an FF contrabass horn would be feasible....

Any DIYers interested?


Subject: Sax J

Well, the new Saxophone Journal (May/June 97) just arrived, and it contains the first of Paul Cohen's contrabass sax columns.

I won't quote the whole article here (you guys need to go out and get copies), but it starts off with a discussion of Henry Cowell and his works, and segues into History of the Contrabass, with several mentions of the fact that the horn was made to be carried in a marching band (and a nod to Don Stevens of the Nuclear Whales, who practically dances while playing one). He quotes from several early orchestrators who wrote about the timbre of the saxophone family, including George Kastner, who wrote about the contrabass in 1844, and used the C bass sax in an opera.

The article includes two photographs of Paul's horn; one where he and Dan Gordon are standing, with Dan supporting the contra and Paul holding a curved Bb soprano, and the other showing Paul playing the contra apparently as part of a saxophone ensemble. There is also a reproduction of A. Sax's 1846 patent sketch that shows the family of saxophones down to contra, with the bass and contrabass shown shaped much more like sarrusophones (which were invented later). I.e., the bass and contra are shown as "bell up" instruments.

I can hardly wait to see the next issue!


Date: Mon, 02 Jun 1997 21:07:57 -0700
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
From: Dmorsetul@aol.com
Subject: bass saxo.

Dear sir:

I may be selling the 1920-ish CGConn bass sax which I own...silver finish-recent full repad by Gary Sage ( he was the man who overhauled A.Braxton's Contrabass Sax )

At present I am thinking of about the $3500-$4000 range...if you (and or others ) have an interest, please call (918) 481-1889 or e-mail...dmorsetul@aol.com, and we can discuss the matter further.


Ed Morse
Tulsa, Ok

Date: Mon, 02 Jun 1997 21:08:01 -0700
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
From: "Farfl's house" <lederman@inforamp.net> Subject: Re: bad bass bodings.

Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 10:11:43 +0000

> From: Paul Lindemeyer <paulwl@gannett.infi.net
> > To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com

> Subject: Hey Now!

> Craig Ruff wrote:
>> After that, it was one low instrument after another. Tenor sax,
>> bari sax, bassoon, then bass sax, which was a poorly tuned instrument,
>> so I quickly took up tuba (quite fun).


> I beg to differ, Craig...

> I have played bass sax for 4 years and it's not so much a matter of the
> instrument being poorly tuned as it is of the player taking the time to
> get the feel of it. Standard sax technique just isn't enough. But this
> doesn't make it a bad instrument.

> But the horn is well worth learning and has given me (and open-minded
> audience members) a lot of enjoyment. Besides, I don't imagine a bassoon
> plays very well in tune when one first picks it up.

> Paul Lindemeyer (paulwl@gannett.infi.net) >_______________________________________________________

Paul, I would be the very first one to staunchly defend the noble bass sax as the most regal of "low" instruments, and I heartily applaud your efforts, however, perhaps the young man's experience with the lion of the low den was soured because he had an inferior instrument. By example, I might point out the Saxello as a poorly-tuned instrument by design. I know King did not manufacture Saxello basses (they would've looked so great though, and I'd probably own one no matter what it sounded like..) but perhaps this young man picked up a poorly-manufactured bass. Perhaps a stencil horn made on a Friday, when the assembly-line workers were preoccupied with some type of extracurricular sporting event.

Just a thought.


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