Vol. 5, No. 26

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Contrabass list Tue, 24 Mar 1998 Volume 1 : Number 26

In this issue:

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 16:05:47 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: French Links


Due to popular demand, I've added a page of links for all the French instrument images recently mentioned. Enjoy!


Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 22:23:35 EST
From: PaulC135
Subject: Re: list V1 #25

In a message dated 3/23/98 11:22:04 PM, you wrote:

<<>The remaining instruments include:
> F mezzo - $3000
Just out of curiosity, is that a straight Conn-O-Sax, or the curved F mezzo?
The curved F instrument, with conventional key range and appearance is always known as the F-Mezzo, and is quite uncommon. The straight F instrument with the bulbous extension, range from low A to high G is only known as the Conn-0-Sax, and is very very rare. I'm playing the Conn-0-Sax on two pieces this Friday on a concert with organ at Northwestern University.

Paul Cohen

Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 03:51:22 -0500
From: bonedaddy
Subject: list V1 #25

LI>Date: Sun, 22 Mar 98 23:35:12 -0000
LI>From: Syd Polk
LI>Subject: Eb Contrabass Sarusaphone for Sale

LI>So I visited Sandy's booths at the Antique Trove in San Carlos, CA today,
LI>and she has an Eb contrabass sarusaphone for sale. I will be going back
LI>this coming weekend with details. I did not get a good look at it because
LI>it was closing time. Will post more details as I get them.

My band director talked to Sandy about the sarrusophone last week. It's a Buffet going for over $5000 if I remember correctly. I think a bit of pink rot was discussed, but I may be confused by a discussion of a UMI Flugabone she had with a bit of pink rot, due to a higher zinc content being used in UMI horns since they bought the Conn & King names. Didn't someone already post on this horn?



Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 8:38:27 +0000
From: Francis.Firth
Subject: Subkontrafagott

I'm sorry if this is a little late

I tried posting it to the list at least a week ago without success, not realising that the address for posting to the list had changed slightly

Francis Firth

Dear Nick,

I'm sorry to disappoint you but the subcontrabassoon is a myth based on a misprint and a misunderstanding of written symbols of instrumental pitch range

The articles by Eppelsheim cited at the end of the following are generally regarded as definitive and also explain about Cerveny who was an East European instrument manufacturer

Basically Cerveny's contrabassoon (made of metal and akin in some ways to the sarrusophone) descended to the low D' of the contrabassoon range and the subcontrabass to the A'' below that (the one which is now the bottom note on the standard contrabassoon and is also the bottom note of the normal piano)

Please read the summary below:


This instrument, made by Cerveny and exhibited in 1867, has achieved something of a legendary status as the lowest wind instrument ever made, supposedly descending the Bb an octave below the bottom range of the piano. However, Jurgen Eppelsheim, in a lengthy article comparing various metal subbasoons/contrabassoons, has demonstrated that this was a mistake in nomenclature and that, rather than being 32 foot long, the instrument descends to the Bb or A in the 32' register - that is, the range from 32' low C up to 16 foot C and was pitched a fourth below his earlier Reed Contrabass. This would still have made it one of the lowest-pitched wind instruments together with the Contrabass sarrusophone in Bb which descended a semitone lower to Ab (written Bb). There appear to be no surviving copies of this instrument although Cerveny's 1876 catalogue shows it to have been originally a lower-pitched Tritonicon which had evolved by 1889 into an instrument with two octave keys, 2 keys for the right little finger, 3 keys for the left little finger and two keys for each thumb.  No scores known to the writer specify the Subkontrafagott although usage of the time would probably have specified a contrabassoon part which would have been played on whatever instrument was to hand and effective, such as the Contrabass Sarrusophone in C also used for this purpose.


Francis Firth

End of list V1 #26

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