Vol. 2, No. 52


An email list for discussion of bass and contrabass instruments of all kinds. To subscribe, send a message with "subscribe" in the subject line to contrabass-list-request@contrabass.com.

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See the Archive for back issues.

30 June 1997

EDITOR'S NOTE: We're still in "manual mode." I spent the last week getting a rush project out the door, and didn't have time to compile a digest. My apologies if anyone's post is missing (or repeated).

On the automation front, we've had a few problems getting listserv to run on Scott's setup, but I think we're on the right track.

Crossing my fingers....

Author: EbHarpoon@aol.com
Date: 6/25/97 7:31 AM
Subject: reeds?!

Here's a problem that I'm sure all contra players face--anyone know any good companies for reeds, specifically the contralto clarinet? Currently, I'm using VanDoren's for the contrabass, but they seem a little big. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Please e-mail me back: EbHarpoon@aol.com. Thanks!

Alexandra :)

P.S.--any good recordings/sheet music for these large clarinets?!

I've actually never had occasion to play contralto, but the Lamarca reeds strike me as a little too narrow for contrabass. Maybe they'd fit your horn.

As for recordings, I haven't found many that actually mention the Eb contralto. Hamiet Bluiett (of the World Saxophone Quartet) has started using the Eb contralto instead of bass clarinet (he's the bari sax player). His disc "The Clarinet Family" specifically includes both the Bb contra and the Eb contra. There's a discography (a least, the beginnings of one) at http://www.contrabass.com/pages/dis-cbcl.html .


From: tjohnson@akcache.com (Johnson, Tim)
Subject: Re: Selmer Contrabass
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 07:11:48 -0800

Hello Grant:

>I suspect that the Selmer contra is "straight", and just has a very long
>neck. I haven't actually seen one, nor have I seen a wood-bodied curved
>contra. Selmer *might* make it that way, I just don't know. The pictures
>I have of Anthony Braxton on contra all appear to show Leblanc metal horns

I believe that I may be laboring under a prior assumptions once assumed and never questioned. I took a long look at what photos I have, the ones that I assumed to be of wooden instruments were black and white photos aged and faded to sepia. And photcopies to begin with. What I assumed to be reflective surfaces could be metal. AND I do have the Montreux/Berlin Album what has two clear photos of him playing a metal instrument.

I think this assumption began with the first album of his that I listened to and that was before I even knew that there was metal clarinets. It is called "New York, Fall 1974", and to my limited ears, his contrabass playing sounds like a wooden instrument, but then maybe he plays a wooden one as well?

If that Selmer is straight, it must be unwieldy. It also makes one wonder if the unsupported length might make for quite a "shake" in the lower range. The curved model makes more sense if the register will descend to low "C".

One more question - what is the physical dimensions of your instrument - that is how high does it stand?

Feel free to put these last two letters in the newsletter.



My contra fits into a case about 46" long: with the bell on, its probably about that length. However, when playing, the horn is supported on a long peg, so that the bottom end of the horn is about level with my knees: the top must stick up at least a foot over my head.

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 11:30:37 -0700
From: Bob Bailey <bbailey@nwol.net>
Organization: Trans Global Productions, Inc. Subject: Yup!

> Whoa! There was contrabass sax on CNN? Details?

Well, it is Scott Robinson, and he says that this particular instrument had been used as a holder for flowers or something in an antique store. He said that he cried when he found out that the store finally sold it for some low amount of money (I don't even remember ballpark-- $300? $1,000?) I don't know how he ended up with it, but the finish of it is very dull, and we saw clips of him playing it with a symphony somewhere, as well as him rolling it in to the Woodwind and Brasswind store (is that the same as the website of WW & BW?) to show it off. The man working there immediately said something along the lines of "mine's taller than yours!" We saw the new-looking contrabass sax in the store, and when they compared the 2 instruments, the man described the bell of Scott's as being a toilet bowl. They measured the diameter of Scott's bell, and I think that the result is 3 1/2 ft. Would that be right? It was shown how the instrument could devour several alto-shaped soprano saxophones without even so much as a belch. When we saw him playing with the symphony, we saw short clips of him starting off the show with playing an alto-shaped soprano saxophone, then moving to the alto, then the "tiny" tenor, then the "somewhat more burly" bass (which was very interesting for me, because I had never seen a bass before), and then the mighty contrabass. All but the contrabass looked brand new! That would be nice to have a new model of each! I've had a saxophone up to my mouth only once, but would like to learn! Why don't the larger saxophones sound as nice as the alto and tenor like the clarinet instruments do? He never played down to the lowest note for the TV, and I think that he should've played that note! Since the saxophone is conical, why isn't a straightened out alto saxophone twice the length of an A clarinet? We watched a rabbit crawl into the bell and get stuck somewhere inside; after a few minutes, the rabbit came back out!

> One degree more sardonic ;-)

I looked up the word "sardonic", and it supposedly means "expressing bitterness". I think that your intentions of this: ;-) are more wicked than bitter!?

You didn't tell me what you've been doing lately!!!! ;-> I wish that there is a symbol that is this: ; with the top dot a reflection of the bottom-- that'd really look "sardonic!"


Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 04:01:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: RAYOBOE@aol.com
Subject: contrabass sarrusophone

I would like to find a contrabass sarrusophone any condition for rebuild project. Would appreciate any info or help. THANKS



From: "Sydney R. Polk" <jazzman@rahul.net>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 09:58:23 -0700
Subject: Red, White and Broadway at Ohlone College 7/3-7/5

I am playing a broadway revue at the Ampitheater at Ohlone College 7/3- 7/5 at 8 PM. I have no idea how much it costs, and I think you call the Ohlone switchboard and they can connect you with the box office.

We are performing numbers from Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Kiss Me Kate, My Fair Lady, and the Music Man, among others.


PS If you don't want to receive these announcements, let me know.

Sounds great! If we were going to be in town then, we'd be there. I'll pass it along.


Date: Mon, 23 Jun 1997 20:55:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: SEMarcus@aol.com
Subject: Aborted attempt to subscribe to CONTRABASS-L


I have been reading the Contrabass-L journals for a few weeks with great interest. Having just installed a new modem, I attempted to sign onto the list, but received the following message:

HTTP/1.0 500 Server Error (-2146893048)

Please add me to the list manually.

I am a tuba player who would love the opportunity to see/hear/play one of the so-called subcontrabass tubas such as the one owned by Dr. Young, the one at the Amati factory, the one built for Sousa (owned by Harvard?), etc.

I support the idea of a recording of some of the instruments of interest to the Contrabass-L subscribers, such as the octo-contrabass clarinet, etc.

I've been fascinated with low pitched instruments since I was at least 3 years old. I had a poster that hung over my bed at that time that depicted a circus scene, and I remember constantly staring at the sousaphone!

Please post this to the list. I look forward to further correspondence.

Thank you very much,

Steve Marcus

Barrington, IL (northwest Chicago suburb) http://www2.qrsmusic.com/qrsmusic/Mrktng/Dealers/Butsound/BeautSound.htm



It's time to update the contrabass sarrusophone discography page!

Doctor Nerve has a new CD out, entitled "Every Screaming Ear" (1997, Cunieform Records, Rune 88). As I mentioned in the previous review of Doctor Nerve, this type of music probably isn't everyone's favorite, but is enjoyable if you like free jazz and acid rock (imagine that combined...).

Anyway, I bring it up because track one on the disc (Nerveware #8, performed by NewEar) includes contrabass sarrusophone in a prominent role. The NewEar ensemble consists of:

Made my day!


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