Vol. 2, No. 53


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.

To post, send your message to contrabass-list@contrabass.com.
See the Archive for back issues.

2 July 1997

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'll be away from the computer for the next couple weeks, so this is probably the last digest I'll have time to compile until mid-July. Unless a miracle happens, that means that Contrabass-List will be offline for a couple of weeks (the miracle would be if Scott and I get listserv started today or tomorrow).

IN THE MEANTIME, I have a modest proposal. A new site called "CoolList" now offers email list services for FREE. At present they do not have any form of digest or archive ability, but they do transmit mail. The catch (of course there's a catch) is that they put a little ad at the end of each post. The ad is fairly inoffensive.

Here's the proposal: I've set up a list on CoolList to handle discussions until I get back from tour. If you WANT to go non-digest, and carry on discussions, I encourage you to subscribe to contra-list@coollist.com (that is what I've set up). You'll get an automatic notice you've subscribed, and you'll get posts from anyone who sends it to contra-list@coollist.com. When I return, I'll take the accumulated posts and make digests and archives out of them.

I suspect that not everyone will be interested in a non-digest list, and you are still free to send any posts to me, for inclusion in the regular digest. This is just a way to allow discussions to continue in my absence.


To subscribe, go to http://www.coollist.com , and subscribe to contra-list.

If you have any questions, you'd better catch me by mid-day on Thursday!

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 1997 10:21:10 -0700
From: Bob Bailey <bbailey@nwol.net>
Organization: Trans Global Productions, Inc.
Subject: Re: Contra Digest #2:52

> >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
> >(curved).

I hear that there is a BBb rosewood model that descends to lowest written C. How can this be? It's a Selmer.

> 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".

Why are straight ones even made?

> Tim

> 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.

Ditto, and welcome to the list! ;)

> 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.

What are the chances of that?

> I've been fascinated with low pitched instruments since I was at least 3
> years old.

Me too, although I don't remember since what age.

> Steve Marcus

> http://www2.qrsmusic.com/qrsmusic/Mrktng/Dealers/Butsound/BeautSound.htm
> http://www.steinway.com

What are these sites of-- where you work? I haven't checked them out yet. Well, all this is from Gregg Bailey mailto:bbailey@nwol.net

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 1997 15:05:46 -0400
From: "Farfl's house" <lederman@inforamp.net>
Organization: inforamp inc.
To: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: Contra Digest #2:52

"....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!..."

I think you've been listening to the wrong players (Scott is a wonderful player, perhaps the television recording sounded bad, listen to his work on the recent Tzadik CD "Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach") because the large saxes sound just as wonderful, if not more sonorous than the larger clarinets. Give Rollini a listen, Carney for bari sax, and a host of others who can make the larger instruments sound beautiful. Spencer Clark told me that he tried to make his upper bass sax register sound like a cello.

Anyways, regarding the contrabass' lowest note, don't forget I still have VHS copies of "Lowest Of The Low" for sale, which features the bass sax and the contrabass sax, and their lowest notes!! You haven't seen a bass before? How about a bass sax choir, as featured in this documentary?

Speaking of videotapes, did anyone happen to record this segment on Scott from CNN?

I'm also looking for a beat-up contrabass sarrusophone. I didn't have the dough to buy the painted one when I had the chance!!

Let me know if you want to purchase the "Lowest Of The Low" documentary.

STeven Lederman

From: Francis Firth <Francis.Firth@uce.ac.uk>
Cc: 'Bob Bailey' <bbailey@nwol.net>
Subject: Contrabassophone
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 97 09:28:00 BST


I an a fellow low reed enthusiast were wondering whether, in these days of historically informed performance on facsimile period instruments, anyone had made a recording using Haseneier's Contrabassophon as their contrabassoon. As Haseneier's instrument was widely copied it would seem likely that it was used for at least some performances including contrabassoon during the mid-late 19th century.

Hoping to hear a response in the affirmative. Francis Firth


Date: Wed, 02 Jul 1997 11:00:03 -0700
To: gdgreen@contrabass.com
From: "John J. Hensley" <jhensley@cisco.com>
Subject: trumpet ensemble music w/bass trumpet


I located some sheet music on the web with bass trumpet parts. Not appropriate for the discography, since it's not recorded, but there are some bass trumpet parts out there. Unfortunately the pieces call for so many players and specialized horns that I can't imagine trying to perform one. I mean, I consider myself to be something of a nut-case for owning a slide trumpet, and I'm supposed to find a second slide-trumpet player?

John Hensley


1 - E-flat trumpet * 4 - B-flat trumpets * 2 - B-flat slide trumpets * 4 - B-flat flugels * 1 - B-flat Bass Trumpet
1 - E-flat trumpet * 4 - B-flat trumpets * 2 - B-flat slide trumpets * 4 - B-flat Flugels * 1 - B-flat Bass trumpet * 2 - Percussion (SD and Tympani)
2 - E-flat trumpets * 4 - B-flat trumpets * 2 - B-flat Slide Trumpets * 4 - B-flat Flugels * 1 - Bass trumpet * 2 - Percussion (SD and Tynpani)
1 - Piccolo Trumpet in B-flat * 1 - Solo B-flat Trumpet * 3 - B-flat trumpets * 2 - B-flat Slide trumpets * 4 - B-flat Flugels * 1 - B-flat Bass trumpet
1 - E-flat Trumpet * 1 - B-flat Slide Trumpet * 4 - B-Flat Trumpets * 4 - B-flat Flugels * 1 - B-flat Bass Trumpet
WALKURENRITT- Wagner/Hunt $25.00
1 and 2 - E flat trumpets * 1 and 2 - B-flat Altissimo trumpets * 1 - B-flat Slide Trumpet * 1 - B-flat Cornet * 4 - B-flat Trumpets * 3 - B-flat Flugels * 1 - B-flat Flugel(4-valve) * 1 - B-flat Bass Trumpet * Tympani

Yep, I ran across those too, while searching on "bass trumpet". I wonder if one could substitute a valved trumpet for one or both of the slide trumpets without doing too much violence to the arranger's intentions. I assumed that schools that had trumpet ensembles would have these horns, much as schools that have clarinet choirs typically have alto, bass, and contrabass clarinets (and Eb sopranos) to provide for the players. So many of these arrangements called for slide trumpet, I thought it must be a standard setup (like 1 Eb soprano, 6 Bb sopranos, 2 altos, 2 basses, and one contrabass clarinet).

Is the slide trumpet particularly idiomatic in trumpet ensembles? Apart from being able to gliss (and how often is that used?), I suppose it could have a distinct timbre. I've never heard a slide trumpet played, so I don't know if it does anything else different from a valved trumpet.

Or, you could use a Bb soprano trombone - much more common ;-)

Seriously though, what is the slide trumpet like to play? Do you use 7 positions, as in trombone? I suppose you don't need to worry about out-of-tune valve combinations, or stuffiness from valves. Is it hard to move the slide accurately enough to play in tune?


Date: Wed, 02 Jul 1997 13:47:25 -0700
To: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
From: "John J. Hensley" <jhensley@cisco.com>
Subject: Re: trumpet ensemble music w/bass trumpet

There isn't a standard instrumentation for the trumpet ensemble. Composers and arrangers need to consider what instruments their intended audience (of performers) will have and proceed accordingly. High-schoolers will probably only have Bb trumpets. The college audience will probably have piccolo trumpets, C trumpets, and flugelhorns as well. Hunt's arrangements are the most rarified (at least as far as the instruments he calls for) I've seen. I'm assuming that since he specifies slide trumpets, the parts probably contain glisses - there's really no other reason to call for them.

I have no idea what a powerhouse music department like North Texas might be able to supply, but I've personally never heard of or encountered a music department with a slide trumpet, a 4-valve flugelhorn, or a bass trumpet (other than a personal faculty instrument).

The slide trumpet/soprano trombone is pretty tough to play. The slide positions are so close that it's tough to hit notes spot-on, and almost impossible to play fast sections in tune (of course I don't spent a great deal of time working on this). My horn, like most other slide trumpets, is pretty cheap and nasty. The slide action is bad, and there are really only 6 positions - 7th is at the end of the slide, and between the leaking air and the probability of pushing the slide all the way off, I'd rather avoid concert B if possible.

Author: WilPryde@aol.com
Date: 7/1/97 11:42 PM
Subject: Re: Contra Digest #2:52

Hello, all I am also a Tuba player and I wanted to tell you that the 2 Sub-Contrabass Tubas Sousa had made for his world tour are now split up, 1 of them is in South Africa with a Traveling Circus, and the other one is with the Manufacturer in France, I'll post an exerpt, for the Guinness Book of World Records:

Largest Brass Instrument. The largest recorded Brass instrument is a Tuba standin 7 1/2 ft. tall, with 39 feet of Tubing and a bell 3 ft. 4 in. across. This contrabass Tuba was constructed for a world tour by the band of American Composer John Phillip Sousa(1854-1932), c. 1896-98. It is nowowned by a circus promoter in South Africa.

I'd like to build a sub-contrabass Tuba, that's pretty much the only way you can get one, for under10,000 bucks........

Author: SEMarcus@aol.com
Date: 7/1/97 11:43 PM
Subject: Contrabass sarrusophone--first encounter

Dear Grant and everyone else on the List:

Tonight at Palatine Concert Band rehearsal (where I enjoyed being the only tuba player--the others are all on vacation), John Carrera (sp?) brought and briefly played his recently acquired contrabass sarrusophone. It's a 1914 Conn which he says he purchased for--gulp--only $200! It had been lying dormant in a school for who knows how long. It also came with a bunch of reeds. He played it down to concert Db; I didn't realize that the contrabass sarrusophone went that low because Grant's sound clip of "Paper Moon" goes down to only ("only!") concert Eb.

Needless to say, most of the band members, including myself, were gauking at an instrument that they had neither seen nor heard in person.

Does anyone know which subcontrabass tuba was played by Gerald Hoffnung in the first Hoffnung Festival recording (1956) and where that monster is now? (The tuba, not Mr. Hoffnung. The latter met with an unfortunately early demise. Hopefully, the same did not happen with the former!)

This List is the only outlet I have to admit my obsession with low notes on wind instruments and, remarkably, to receive some empathy! Thanks, Grant!

Regards to all,

Steve Marcus



On another note ;-), there's another list that may be of interest.

Dr. Guy Grant (no relation...) has started a list called ODDMUS, for odd musical instruments. As far as I know, it is fairly new, and has no archives or back issues (or web page). To subscribe, go to http://www.coollist.com , and sign up for oddmus on the subscription page.

Looks interesting to me!


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