Vol. 4, No. 14

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Contrabass-list Mon, 20 Oct 1997 Volume 1 : Number 14

In this issue:

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 97 14:58:00 BST
From: Francis Firth <Francis.Firth@uce.ac.uk>
Subject: Low Bagpipes

I sent the following to the list on 16th October (last Thursday) but it doesn't seem to have got through so I'm re-posting

Some time ago I promised to find out about low pitched oboes from the CDs I have. My apologies for the delay but here is what I have gleaned:

On CD Silex Y225111: Zampogne en Italie there is mentioned and recorded a Zampogna e cle de Monreale (Monreale keyed Zampogna). This has its longer chanter at nearly 150 cm. long (5 foot long). and it gives the pitches of the 2 chanters as: D in the bass clef up to Ab on the top line and the other chanter as middle c# up to ab in the treble cleff. The drones are on middle Ab and the Ab on top of the bass clef.

The other CD is: Ethnica CD 0027-TA01: La Zampogna Lucana (Ethnica 1: Le tradizioni musicali in Lucania Vol. 1) In this there is a Zampogna a 6 palmi (Zampogna of 6 palms? - the palm seems to vary between 25 and 26.5 cm. although it should be officially 212 mm.).The length of the longer chanter is thus c. 150 cm. (=5 foot). The one chanter descends from D in the bass clef down to the G at the bottom of it and the other chanter descends from the d under the treble clef (middle d) down to the f below the treble clef while the drones are on the d in the bass clef and the next d up (middle d).

Obviously the 2 CDs agree on the length of the longest chanters on these 2 bagpipes but not on their pitch. It would seem to me that with a length of 5 feet the lower pitch of G at the bottom of the bass clef seems more likely. I hope that this information is of interest to those on the list and especially the person who was asking about low bagpipes.

Francis Firth


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 19:02:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Philip Neuman <neuman@up.edu>
Subject: Re: contrabass-list V1 #11


I noticed you used the term "blatweasel" for saxophone. I would really like to know anything, even hearsay, about the origin of that term. Years ago, here in Oregon, we called alto horns blatweasels, but I have no idea where the term came from.

Philip Neuman

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 09:28:36 -0700
From: TOLECHWMS@aol.com
Subject: Alto Clarinet

I played alto-clarinet for years. However, I was more facinated with the bass and contrabass clarinet. Those were the good ole days!

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 10:05:29 -0700
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@crl.com>
Subject: Re: contrabass-list V1 #11

At 07:02 PM 10/17/97 -0700, you wrote:

>I noticed you used the term "blatweasel" for saxophone. I would really
>like to know anything, even hearsay, about the origin of that term. Years
>ago, here in Oregon, we called alto horns blatweasels, but I have no idea
>where the term came from.

>Philip Neuman

Well, I don't really know how it originated. I went to high school in a suburb of Kansas City (Prairie Village, to be exact). As far as I know/knew, David McCreary, a friend of mine who played trombone in the HS band originated the term. This would have been around 1973-74 (after which we moved to California). I assumed it was a combination of the sinuous shape of the alto (and maybe tenor) sax with its, ahem, timbre in the low register when played by certain band members. Obviously, the bari is too big to be considered a weasel. ;-) At one point, David printed up a set of "band rules" which included the rule:

"Blatweasels (saxophones) should never be taken from the bandroom. Practice is not needed on this instrument."

Wish I still had a copy of that.

I think David graduated from Shawnee Mission East (the HS), and then went to a university in Colorado to major in engineering. I lost touch with him long ago.


Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 11:54:07 -0700
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
To: NINEWINDS@aol.com,contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: Amati Contra Bssn

>Do you know anything about he quality of the Amati Contra Bassoon. I don't
>own one and for 4,000 dollars it seems a good entry point. I'd be thankful
>for any info before I pursue this further.



Can't say I've ever seen or played one. I think someone on the contra list has one: perhaps they'll send you details. Amati seems to have a mixed reputation. On some lists, there are people who love their instruments, and others who shun them. Of course, the same is said of Yamaha, and it seems to vary greatly from instrument to instrument.

True, $4K for a contra sounds like a great price: perhaps too good to be true? I don't think you can beat that without making your own. OTOH, it might be possible for a good instrument technician to use an Amati as "raw material", and improve on it. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to try and order one "on approval", play it for a few days (or take it to someone who plays contra regularly for their opinion), and possibly take it to an instrument tech to see what they would suggest in terms of modification (if necessary). I think WW&BW will ship horns on approval, but I'm not sure if they'll extend that to something the size (and weight) of a contrabassoon.

Make sure to order some reeds at the same time!

If you're in the SF Bay area, I might be able to help you try it out. It's been a long time since I've played contra, but I have played bassoon in the recent past (and sarrusophone even more recently).

Good luck!


Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 12:46:39 -0700
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
To: thomas.klonek@owl-online.de,contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: Contrabass clarinet


>in an answer to a query on jazz online-talk I mentioned Wollie Kaiser.
>Subsequently finding (and enjoying) your contrabass page, I`d like to
>draw your attention to a record by the Koelner Saxophon Mafia (Cologne
>Saxophone Mafia) featuring Mr. Kaiser on cbcl. The CD is named "Go
>Commercial" and the name of the record company is "JazzHausMusic" ,
>ordering number JHM33CD.

>Wollie Kaiser plays cbcl on various other recordings by the KSM, but, as
>I haven`t got them, I can help you no further now.

Yes! This sounds interesting. I haven't heard of the KSM before. Are they avant garde?

>I play the contrabass clarinet myself. Furthermore, I know a guy who
>owns a cbsax (you were looking for them, weren`t you ?). As he`s a
>little bit shy, I will have to obtain his permission to give his name to
>you - are you interested (maybe you already know him, he lives in
>Germany, state north-rhine-westfalia)?

The only person in Germany with a cbsax I can think of would be Thomas Mejer - and he might actually be in Switzerland. There are at least a couple of cbsax players on the list: we'd love to hear from more.

>Please e-mail me, if you want any more information.
>See you

>Thomas Klonek (thomas.klonek@owl-online.de)

>BTW, your server was down during my request, please ad me to your
>mailing list.Thanks

I've added your address to the list for "digest". If you would prefer to receive posts "immediately" instead of daily, please feel free to change your subscription (the server is back on line), or let me know and I'll shift it for you.

Welcome aboard!


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