Vol. 1, No. 76


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|CONTRABASS-L                                       |

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14 January 1997

EDITOR'S NOTE: Scott continues to make progress with the mailing list software. With any luck, we'll be able to offer a "true" discussion list soon (where you can receive individual posts immediately, without having to wait for me to get around to making digests).

That said, I plan to make the list available in both digest and non-digest (immediate) formats, where each subscriber can elect either (or both) ways to receive contrabass-l. In preparation, would you please let me know which option you'd prefer (digest, non-digest, both)? In the absence of an election, I'll assume that you want to continue receiving in digest format.


Date: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 16:23:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Joe ;
Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 75 (pt. 1)

> Author: "Elie A. Harriett" ;
> Date: 1/13/97 6:51 AM
> Subject: contrabass bone thesis
> Hello fellow contra-lovers. I beg of your help in finding some info on
> the following:
> I have to do a senior thesis for graduation and I am interested in doing
> it on the history of contrabass trombone literature. Do any of you think
> this is a feasible topic? I have been doing some searching and
> I have found only operatic and orchestral excerpts for the contrabass.
> Is it worth it to research this topic any further with hopes of
> finding some solo lit., or should I change my topic to something that I
> know I can find more information on.
> I would appreciate any insights you can give me, including possible leads
> on contrabass trombone solos. You may email me personally or to the
> list. Thanks in advance.

> Elie

There is a PhD thesis about contrabass trombones and the literature by Bruce Tracy at University of Illinois - Champaign-Urbana - "The contrabass trombone: its development and use" which you can get on interlibrary loan from there - they have it on microfiche at New York Public Library and others as well. It is pretty complete and discusses the various pieces in which the instrument was used, and in what way. Other analysis of contemporary performance practice was included as well - anyway I found it very interesting and useful when I started playing contra myself - he printed out many of the excerpts from the score to show when and how it is used and speculated on when different types of contrabass trombone were actually intended...

Best wishes,
Joseph Terwilliger

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 17:44:33 -0600
From: "William J. Dawson" ;
Subject: New member introduction

Greetings, and happy to join you all --

Low sounds have fascinated me for more than 45 years, when I began playing bassoon in the Jr. high school band, and found my voice changing to what would ultimately become a basso profundo. I picked up bari sax and tuba during high school, playing them on and off during college, military service and in subsequent years. Thanks to Chip Owen, my Fox contrabassoon became a major part of musical life about 1.5 years ago, and during our time together at the recent <Contrafest> in Las Vegas, he put me in touch with this listserv.

My previous <day job> was as a hand and orthopaedic surgeon in the Chicago suburbs for more than 30 years. During the last 15, I became interested in performing arts medicine (caring for musicians with medical problems affecting performance), and have been quite active in this specialty ever since. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Performing Arts Medicine Association, and have just stood for election to the Board of the Association of Concert Bands. I'm currently involved with the ACB and the Intl. Double Reed Society as a clinician and lecturer in music medicine, and this activity continues to be a major commitment after recently retiring from formal medical practice.

My current musical performance activities are with the Highland Park (IL) Symphonic Winds on bssn/contra, and with the Glenview (IL) Concert Band (same, plus tuba ). In addition, I freelance with various chamber and orchestral groups in the area.

I look forward to learning much more about contrabass instruments while on the list, and may be able to offer some insight or assistance to others about physical/ ergonomic/ biomechanical issues involving contra performance.

Thanks for your patience in reading this.

Dr. Bill Dawson
Assoc. Prof. of Orthopaedic Surgery
Northwestern University Medical School

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 19:22:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Steven & Jessica ;
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Contrabass-L No. 75 (pt. 2)]

>Author: Grant Green; at SMTP
>Date: 1/11/97 8:01 AM
>TO: Gmuzic at SMTP
>Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 74
>At 01:36 AM 1/11/97 -0500, you wrote:
>>I've got a question for you. Is there a such thing as a straight bari or bass
>>sax, just curious. Also who makes the curved sopranino that you claim to
>>have, darn that must be tiny..
>>Gmuzic (Chris)
>There was a straight bari made ... once, as a novelty. I've forgotten most
>of the details, but it was mentioned some time ago in Paul Cohen's column in
>Saxophone Journal. Some sax player had one made, and had to stand on a
>chair to play it. I think it even appeared in a movie.


Bennie Meroff played the straight bari (among a myriad of other instruments) in a short subject film called "It's A Panic". Yes, you guessed it, I have copies for sale! $20 US, same as "Lowest Of The Low", and I'll include another short of interest.


Steven, can you expand a bit on "It's a Panic"? What is the film about? Is it mainly music, or is the music just a brief novelty? Are there other curiosities?


Author: Paul Lindemeyer;
Date: 1/14/97 10:31 AM
Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 75 (pt. 2)

> Author: Grant Green <> at SMTP
> Date: 1/11/97 8:01 AM
> TO: Gmuzic at SMTP
> Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 74
> At 01:36 AM 1/11/97 -0500, you wrote:
> >Grant,
> >I've got a question for you. Is there a such thing as a straight bari or bass
> >sax, just curious. Also who makes the curved sopranino that you claim to
> >have, darn that must be tiny..
> >Gmuzic (Chris)
> >

> Chris,
> There was a straight bari made ... once, as a novelty. I've forgotten most
> of the details, but it was mentioned some time ago in Paul Cohen's column in
> Saxophone Journal. Some sax player had one made, and had to stand on a
> chair to play it. I think it even appeared in a movie.

Yup...the straight bari was made by the Buescher Co. for band leader Benny Meroff. Benny was a vaudevillian and novelty reedman in the novelty style of Ted Lewis and played the horn in a 1931 Vitaphone short subject with his band. It was called "It's A Panic." I know all this because I gave Paul Cohen the videotape that had the picture on it. It's in Saxophone Journal Vol. 18, No. 2 (Sept.-Oct. 1993).

Re curved sopraninos: (Please forgive this momentary intrusion into the altissimo)...I played an Italian one once, but I don't think it was by Orsi. Didn't play too well; sounded almost cute. Don't know about Buescher, but King made exactly one in the 1920s. Once again, see Paul Cohen. Sax Journal Vol. 21, No. 3 (Nov.-Dec. 1996).


Paul Lindemeyer

At your local bookseller from William Morrow & Co.

Date: 1/14/97 10:31 AM
Subject: Contra-festival, Jan 5-8, 1998, Las Vegas

Wow! 79 of us here now. Guess I should repeat a previous announcement about the upcoming festival.

As most of you know, the contra-bassoon festival In Las Vegas last month was a success. All participants asked us to do it again. All of you have asked us to include other contra-instruments. We have decided that while the competition will remain contra-bassoon, all other contra-instruments are invited and encouraged to come and party with us!

For the Grand Finale concert we will have a basement band. I need someone to compose a piece including at least;


Any takers?

Alsso, I would like to get some of you to do some lectures that would be interesting to the registrants remembering that most are contrabassoonists. Interesting things like medicine that was done by Dr. Dawson last month or acoustics or "taking your usual accompanist self into the solo world".

Feedback please....

Author: Francis Firth;
Date: 1/14/97 10:32 AM
Subject: EEb Sarrusophone


I think we all await this recording by Scott Robinson with some impatience. We look forward to getting details as soon as it is released. If it's only a US release, Grant, perhaps you could get an extra copy for me so there's no chance of my missing it.

Elie A. Harriett writes about the contrabass trombone.

There is a Thesis, I think, Ph.D. written in the States on the Contrabass Trombone and you can probably check the details by doing a search in UMI's Dissertation Abstracts. There is also a recent bibliography of music for the low brass but I think it only covers French music so I'll have to check. The only piece for solo contrabass trombone I know of is Brian Fennelly's Tesserae IV about which i post some information kindly supplied by Tom Izzo:

> From: Douglas Yeo ;
> To: Tom Izzo
> Cc: Michael Moore ;
> Subject: Re: Fennelly Tesserae IV
> Date: Tuesday, December 10, 1996 5:15 PM
> I have the music, actually of Fennelly's Tesserae IV(b) which is also
> called Teserae V for solo tuba, which, accordiang to Brian is "essentially
> the same as the contrabass trombone piece (IV) except for the Coda
> (unplayable!!) which was added for the tuba version." Brian sent it to me
> a few years ago.

> It's an interesting, difficult piece in three movements:

> I. Introduction - Pilafony I - Somber Sounds (A)
> II. Pilafony II - Sombre Sounds (B) - Solemn Song
> III. Coda: Toccata
> 7 minutes, written for Sam Pilafian as you know.
> It (Tesserae V) is published by

> American Composers Alliance
> 170 W 74th Street
> NY, NY 10023

> Tesserae IV is published by JOSH (whatever that means, I got that info from
> a photocopy Brian sent me of the BMI catalog of his works).
> The most recent address I have for Brian (he taught at NYU when I did my
> masters there from 1977-1979) dates from 1991:

> Brian Fennelly
> 2 Schryver Court
> Kingston, NY 12401

> Or, you may be able to reach him at

> Department of Music
> 268 Waverly Building
> Washington Square
> NY, NY 10003

> But it's possible those addresses may not be current.
> I can't help you with a recording, but perhaps Brian can.
> Hope this helps you!
> -Doug

There was a tape of a performance of this by Sam Pilafian and I attach some details from the OCLC Union catalogue record:

100 1
#aOhanian, David.
245 00
#aDavid Ohanian (horn), Samuel Pilafian (tuba) #hsound recording / #c[presented by] Boston University School of Music of the School for the Arts.
#a2 sound tape reels (ca. 80 min.) : #b7p1s/b2s ips, stereo ; #c7 in. + #e1 program.
490 0
#aFaculty recital series
#aTitle from program in container.
#aAssisted by Glenn Priest, piano.
#aRecorded in Boston University Concert Hall, 29 October, 1976.
#aRecorded on p1s/b2s track.
505 0
#aThree duets, K. 487 / W.A. Mozart -- Sonata in D minor / Arcangelo Corelli -- Sonata for bass tuba (1955) / Paul Hindemith -- Tesserae IV, for solo contrabass trombone (1976) / Brian Fennelly -- Concerto no. 1 for horn, op. 11 / Richard Strauss -- Carnival of Venice (Fantaisie brillante) / Del Staigers -- Suite for horn, tuba and piano (1971) / Alec Wilder.

If you manage to get a copy of this recording I'd really like one! (for private study).

The only commercially recorded solo I know of is on a (now deleted) LP of the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin (sp.?) big band - I ain't gonna cry no more on the album Tales of a Courtesan (I hope I've got the details right but Grant can correct me).

Daryl Fletcher writes about his contrabass trumpet and, of course, we're all envious. Any chance of recording anything for us Daryl? Carl has a short clip on his web page but it's verty short. I can send a blank cassette if you fancy doing a recording.

Jack Silver writes interestingly about his "bass english horn".
This sounds like a modern copy of the instrument mentioned in several books (Philip Bate and Gunther Joppig spring to mind) as being a contrabass oboe in F by Delusse played by Lemarchand in the paris Opera for 6 months in the late 18th century (1784). This instrument survives in the collection of the Paris Conservatoire and there is another specimen, illustrated in Anthony Baines European and American Musical Instruments, in, I think, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you can get a copy of the Baines please let us know if your instrument looks like this. Have you recorded anything on it? I'm sure that we should all like to know what it sounds like.

Chris asks about the straight baritone.
Paul Cohen's column show a reproduction of a picture of a straight baritone in Saxophone Journal Vol. 17 No. 5 and there is an article about a vintage straight baritone in the same magazine Vol. 18 No. 2. I don't know of a straigh bass sax - it would be nearly as unplayable as a contrabass shawm or an extended Great bass recorder in that you would have to stand on a high chair just to reach the mouthpiece.

There are certainly curved sopraninos around and there is a feature on them by Paul Cohen in Saxophone Journal Vol. 20 No. 6 (which even mentions a sopranissimo (curved, too) or octave saxophone - a unique specimen). I don't think that any are currently manufactured although I stand correction on this should anyone else know otherwise.


We haven't discussed voice much, although Paul did note in Contra27 that

>Under "Highest and Lowest Voices", we are told that Dan Britton, from
>Branson, Missouri, can sing Eb3, 18.84 Hz.
>If true, this would be a breathtaking two octaves and a major second below
>"...you get a little drunk and you lands in jaaa-aaaaaaail" in "Ol' Man

Singing was never my strong suit: I can usually get the F and E below the bass clef in chorales, but that's about as low as I can sing. Anyone else care to comment?


Date: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 15:44:23 -0500
From: Marq ;
Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 74

Please Unsubscribe Me. . .

It's not that I don't like the List, It's just that My mailbox is often full, and from now on I'll just check the archives for anything interesting. . .


Author: gdgreen (Grant Green)
Date: 1/13/97 4:42 PM
TO: marq at SMTP
Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 74

>Please Unsubscribe Me. . .
>It's not that I don't like the List, It's just that My mailbox is often
>full, and from now on I'll just check the archives for anything
>interesting. . .

I know the feeling! Please feel free to contribute anyway: until the automatic listserv software starts up, non-subscriber posts are still accepted.


If you've never had too much email, try subscribing to PIPORGAN-L for a few days ;-)


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