Vol. 2, No. 57


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.

13 August 1997

EDITOR'S NOTE: CoolList is back up, having been down for some time, and I notice that there are some subscribers there who's names I don't recognize, and some who are regular subscribers to contrabass-list@contrabass.com.

Now that it is back, we have more options. I plan to continue sending out the manual digests until such time as Scott and I get our own mailing list software running reliably. However, I know there are a number of digest subscribers who would rather have "immediate" posts (not aggregated into digests). Since CoolList is free (well, OK, it comes with advertising), I plan to use this list as the "immediate post" list. Anything posted to contra-list@coollist.com will get included in the contrabass-list@contrabass.com digests, and anything sent to me for the contrabass-list@contrabass.com digest will be forwarded to CoolList (assuming I remember). You can also post directly to CoolList (send your message to contra-list@coollist.com ), for "immediate service." There were a few digest subscribers who wrote me and said that they would prefer the immediate version, so I've taken the liberty of adding them. (If you've changed your mind, please let me know and I'll unsubscribe you.)

If you'd like to try out the non-digest version, you can email me and I'll sign you up, or you can go to http://www.coollist.com and sign up for contra-list. If all goes well, nobody will miss anything.

CoolList is also apparently available in digest form. However, I'm not convinced that it is stable enough yet to turn everything over there.

This will probably be ungainly (at least for me), but I think its worth trying.


Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 18:21:29 -0500
From: Bob Bailey <bbailey@nwol.net>
Organization: Trans Global Productions, Inc.
Subject: Contra topics

Thanks, Grant, for the marching season advice. I'll see if there are any bari sax parts in the traditional pieces, but there are no bari sax parts in the newly arranged music. I'll probably end up playing baritone T.C. parts, but that's inefficient, but not as much as playing from a tenir sax part!!! How did you get to play bari sax for marching season? Did you just ask if you could do it and take it home and teach yourself the basics for one night, or had you already had lessons on it? What was your main instrument-- bass clarinet?

> This is for any Contra-List readers who also own an Akai sampler of some
> sort.

Have you ever tried an Ensonique? Is your Akai a keyboard?

Does anyone on the list have a BBb contrabass sarrusophone? I'm just curious-- not wanting to borrow one or anything.

> He also has a c.1900 Spanish contrabass guitar

Is that an octave below a bass guitar, in the 32' register?

How does an ophicleide work? I suppose that's a broad way of asking, but I'm wondering how it compares to a standard brass instrument.

-Gregg mailto:bbailey@nwol.net

I don't have any info on the contrabass guitar, but I can tell you roughly how an ophicleide works. Nine feet of pretty conical tubing, and a brass-type mouth piece. Ophicleides were made in Bb and C (8') (with a smaller form, called the quinticlave, in Eb and F), and have from 9 to 12 keys, depending on when it was made (or last modified). The originals had 9 keys, and one uses the keys to change the harmonic series of the horn. So, with all the holes closed, one gets Bb, F, Bb, D, etc., just like playing all the open notes on a trumpet. To get the B natural series, you open the lowest hole (B, F#, B, D#, etc.). And so on up the scale. Since 9 keys doesn't produce a full chromatic scale in the lowest octave, you use a few false fingerings (or combinations of keys).

I think Dr. Levin is our resident ophicleidist - care to elaborate this murk?


Date: Sat, 09 Aug 1997 19:45:02 +0000
From: Paul Lindemeyer <paulwl@cyburban.com>
Organization: Lindemeyer Productions
Subject: Re: Contra Digest 2:56

ddorff@presser.com (Daniel Dorff) wrote:

> If you go to NYC, try Ponte's. When I got mine, they had 8 Selmer low
> C bass clar's there, plus their own store brand. It's also right near
> Manny's, Sam Ash, etc., so it might be worth a special trip.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, people, but Ponte's is now no more than a New York legend. It's been gone since at least 1989, which is when I hit town.


Paul Lindemeyer (paulwl@cyburban.com)

At your local bookseller from William Morrow & Co.

Author: Marion Garver <mgrf@pacificnet.net>
Date: 8/9/97 3:02 PM
Subject: Re: Contra Digest 2:56

Hi all Contra-People

Just a friendly reminder that I will be performing at the National Flute Convention in Chicago next weekend. The convention is August 14 to 17 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. My concert is called 'Composers Performing' and it features myself and Jennifer Higdon performing works of our own and other composers. I am performing:

Jennifer is performing her solo flute piece 'Rapid Fire' and a quarter tone flute concerto commissioned by Brannen Brothers flute makers, who make the Brannen-Cooper-Kingma quartertone flute.

The concert is from 3:15pm to 4 on Sunday, August 17 in the International Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton.

Come say hi if you're there!

Marion Garver

Author: Bob Bailey <bbailey@nwol.net>
Date: 8/9/97 10:06 AM
Subject: Low stuff!

> Are there any ways I can try out some of the current Low C model Bass
> Clarinets?

I was lucky enough that the July 14-19 Annual Symposium of the International Clarinet Association was held only a couple of hours drive from me in Lubbuck, TX at Texas Tech Universtity! My mom took me to the next-to-last day of it, and there were excellent performances, but I got to try out a low C Buffet bass clarinet and bassett horn, as well as a low C Yamaha bass clarinet! I'm soooo glad that I FINALLY got to try out a low C instrument. The Yamaha is very nice looking and is about $1,000 cheaper than the Buffet, but I didn't get to try them out long enough to relly compare the two. The main difference is that the Yamaha has got the low D key where the Buffet's low C# key is, and the Yamaha's low C# key is in place of the Buffet's low C key, and the Yamaha's low C key is a long key to the left of the D an C# keys (all 3 of these being for the right thumb to operate). I wish I had payed more attention to the keywork, but the panflets I got say that both supposedly have 2 different keys for low D (the other being for the left pinky to operate), and an alternate Ab/Eb lever (also for the left pinky). On both instruments, the bottom 3 notes would easily get out of control, I assume because I'm not used to those notes. I sure would like to have one, but only if we win the lottery! I'd also like to have a looped BBb Leblanc contrabass clarinet and a Kotato double contrabass flute!

There was a Leblanc bassett clarinet at the convention, and I really would like to have been able to try it, but the mouthpiece couldn't be found! There was also a Leblanc contra clarinet (what pitch I don't know), but the booth supervisor didn't want to unbox it. I wonder why it was even brought to the convention!

Can anyone tell me anything about an Artley bass clarinet? There's a music store in Las Vegas that sells them new for $900!

> While ones below 8 hertz are often undiscernable to
> many people (even music professors), it is only because they don't hear
> them on a regular basis.

Has anyone really ever been in the presence of a frequency lower than 8 Hz? If so, then how? Besides the 2 64' organ stops in the world, how can one go about being in the presence of an 8 Hz frequency? "Discernable" means that when one hears the tone, he/she can hum it in his/her vocal register? How can someone do that with anything below 20 Hz? When the frequency is down to where one can hear the individual cycles/sec and count them, how can it possibly be discernable?? Especially if the tone has no strong upper harmonic structure.

> And if your wife thinks a BBb Contrabass is too low...well...I
> guess you're gonna have to seek out the BBb Subcontrabass. If you want to
> do better, you can ask Mr. LeBlanc himself to borrow his EEEb
> Suboctocontrabass clarinet.

Why have I never heard of this EEEb suboctocontrabass (subocto-contra-alto) mentioned before????? That'd be an octave below the octo-contra-alto, down into the 64' range!!

> It's the only one in existence, but he MIGHT
> let you try it. ^_^
> (Don't we ALL wish!)

Oh, most definitely!!

> Please mail in your registration form for the Jan 5-8, 1998, Las Vegas
> contra-festival now.

I'd sure like to go, but I definitely won't be able to! That'd be the best convention I could ever go to!

> My problem is the mysterious chirping
> that occurs without any warning. I'll be playing along, mouthpiece and reed
> feeling good, and suddenly, "chirrrrp!". The chirp almost always occurs in
> staccato passages, and sometimes in legato phrases.

I HATE that!! It happens on my school's old Leblanc straight metal BBb contrabass clarinet, and I first assumed it to be because it's metal, then I decided it was just a bad instrument. So many of the notes are fuzzy, but I don't think it's got leaks, because the bottom Eb sounds very strong. It also does it when I slur from the chalumeau register to the clarion register. What I like so much about the contra-alto and contrabass clarinets is how the clarion register sounds like a cello. Why doesn't the bass clarinet have the same type of clarion register?

> I know that many people playing bass clarinet for the first time get
> this chirping a lot

I never had the problem except on a reed that needs work.

> The contra seems to be particularly sensitive to where your lips are
> on the reed & mpc.

I would think that the smaller the instrument, the more sensitive it'd be to embouchure placement, because of the much smaller margin for error.

Author: Bob Bailey <bbailey@nwol.net>
Date: 8/9/97 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: Contrabass Sarrusophone?

> The rare BBb is below the CC, by one whole step, and
> is an octave below the bass sax.

Wow! With range to the concert Ab below the lowest A on the piano?



Author: "Bass Clarinets 'R' Us" <bassclar@musician.org>
Date: 8/9/97 9:28 AM
Subject: Source for used bass/contra clarinets?

Hi all, I'm looking for a source of used bass and/or contra clarinets. Mostly I'm looking for a used Selmer model 36 low C bass, the newer version where you don't have to have your right pinky keys down to get out your right thumb notes. Also, I'm maybe searching for a Leblanc Bb contra clarinet, wrapped, low C, but only searching for this after I get a bass AND if I get a heck of a deal on it. My purchase wouldn't be until next spring, and I'd only have ~$3000 to spend.

One more thing - it's sort of a career goal of mine to play bass clarinet for TV and the movies. Any pointers on how to break into this biz? Thanks!


Andrea Hakari bassclar@musician.org
The King's Singers - Six Healthy Englishmen
Bubba's Classic Video Game Palace

Author: Shouryu Nohe <jnohe@NMSU.Edu>
Date: 8/9/97 9:27 AM
Subject: Response to Greg Bailey

Yeah, I know how you feel. I am also a bassist, but I pretty much have felt that a bass on a marching field is obsolete (along iwht the bari sax). Now, that's only because most bands march a rediculous number of basses and baris. My band marched 4-6; which was alright. For a marching band of 150-180, six basses is good, eight optimal. But only if they have their own part. If they're just marching tenor sax parts or clarinet parts, then it's not really worth the trouble. Same with the bari sax. They usually just end up doubling the tuba line. Unless the low WWs have unique parts, then it's not really a big deal if they are eliminated. In fact, for the most part, here in NM, basses and baris are veryy rare...as of about two years ago, at leaset.

My old director was a baritone player, but his favorite WW was the Contralto clarinet, so he always wrote killer bass parts for us.


 ________________ Visit me at: http://web.nmsu.edu/~jnohe  ________________ 
Shouryuzani Nohe, Musician, Writer, Hacker, Nabiki's PPE, and Jesus Freak
|________A Founder of the School of Improvised Night Martial Arts_______|
| |
|"Blind Man, Deaf Boy--Now see and hear! |
| Did you think that I'd not find you?"--The late, great P.f.R. |
| |
|____________________Masamichi Fujisawa is My Hero!!____________________|
|___________________Yes, but why do we call it 'TWO'?___________________|
|_J.C.rules J.C.rules J.C.rules J.C.rules J.C.rules J.C.rules J.C.rules_|

Author: SEMarcus@aol.com
Date: 8/9/97 9:24 AM
Subject: Contrabass Sarrusophone in Malcolm Arnold (from Contra Diges


In a message dated 8/9/97 6:02:11 AM, you wrote:

<< By the way, the Sarrusaphone (the real one, not the sampled one) made its public performance debut last week at a Palatine (IL) community band concert playing the contrabassoon part on Malcolm Arnold's "Prelude, Siciliano, and Rondo". It definitely raised a few eyebrows!>>

And it sounded great, John. But only one problem--you're stealing the low note monopoly from us tubas! Next, you'll be bringing a contrabassoon to Palatine! (Actually, that would be very nice.)

Grant and everyone else, John and his contrabass sarrusophone "done Contrabass-L proud!"

Kindest regards,

Steve Marcus

Principal Tuba and Board of Directors, Palatine Concert Band
http://www.steinway.com http://www.suzukimusic.com

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