Vol. 1, No. 77


|                                                   |

|CONTRABASS-L                                       |

|        An email list for discussion of bass and   |

|        contrabass instruments of all kinds.       |

|        Contact gdgreen@crl.com for subscription.  |

|        See www.contrabass.com/c-arch1.html   for  |

|        back issues.                               |


15 January 1997

EDITOR'S NOTE: A slightly smaller digest today - trying to avoid two-part digests!

Author: Stryder <stryder@rupert.mhv.net>
Date: 1/14/97 8:36 PM
Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 76

Umm, I'd go for normal, non digest smartlist mode, (it's a pain to read through a 19k digest, rather than 20 messages that come in spurts into the contra folder that i have set aside for contrabass-l


From: Gmuzic@aol.com
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 00:47:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Contrabass-L No. 76

To Grant:

sorry about the upper register talk. I apoligize in advance for any more upper register question/statements that I make in the future. I am interested in odd saxophones of any nature i.e. the slide sax or "home sax".

Here's a question, concerning slide saxophones, what were the lowest and highest playing ones made? Any other details about these horns would be appreciated. thanks.


We don't seriously object to discussion of other instruments. I've even been known to play piccolo on occassion ;-)


From: groover@netcom.com (Robert Groover)
Subject: Re: Basso Profondo voices
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 23:38:56 -0800 (PST)

A few notes about low bass voices:

Voice classification is determined by color and tessitura more than by extreme range. (Tessitura is the central range of a voice, i.e. your all-night range rather than your high notes.)

The lowest standard voice classification, basso profondo, is a rare one without very much literature. There is a pater profundus in one of the Mahler symphones (8th?), and Sarastro in the Magic Flute is sometimes sung by a profondo. Also Osmin in the Abduction from the Seraglio goes down to a low D, so this takes a very extraordinary voice.

In operatic writing the only relevant notes are the ones you can project - so many singers have more low notes than you will ever hear in public. I don't think a C below the bass clef is particularly startling, if it's merely a weak bottom note - but if it's something you can do ff, that's another story!

Listen to some Russian choral writing for gorgeous use of profondo voices on the bottom.

The very active opera newsgroup could probably give some much more extensive info on profondo voices and roles.

Robert Groover groover@netcom.com (PGP key on request)
Member ECS, AVS, ACM, OSA, Sen.Mem.IEEE, Reg'd Patent Atty
"All men by nature desire knowledge."

Sounds good: can you recommend any good CDs, Robert?

From: David V Feldman <dvf@christa.unh.edu>
Subject: My introduction to Contrabass-L
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 03:49:04 -0500 (EST)

I have what I am afraid amounts to a narrow interest in Contrabass-L, though who knows what the future holds.

Though I am a mathematician by profession, I am also a composer. I compose for a variety of means range over instrumental, vocal and computer music.

An old high school friend (I'm 39) married a world-class bassoonist with a speciality in the contrabassoon. When she introduced me to her husband a few years ago, the subject of my compositional activities came up and he told me that he's always looking for solo pieces for contrabassoon. So I wrote one and delivered it to him. Regrettably, nearly three years have gone by without any followup on his part, owing it seems to some unfortunate complexities which have encumbered his life. (If you're reading this, hi!)

I stumbled across Contrabass-L while surfing the other night, and it immediately occurred to me that I'd found a forum where I might attempt to find a home for my piece, perhaps even a premiere. I have prepared the score of the piece as a PostScript file, so I can send copies over the Net. If you would like a copy, please send me a request at dvf@math.unh.edu . If you wouldn't know what to do with a PostScript file, you may ask for hard copy sent by mail, but it will take longer. You should be warned that I consider the piece quite difficult. Beyond the purely mechanical difficulties, the piece's complex rhythmic scheme doesn't lend itself to traditional metrical notation. Rather I have notated the piece proportionally. Because of the approximate nature of the eye's perception of spatial proportions, I have also made a MIDI realization which I regard as a component of the score, an aural score if you will. Thus one should learn the piece Suzuki style (Suzuki Contrabassoon, conjures quite an image, no?) Some professional musicians might find such an arrangement insulting, but I can't conceive of any other way to communicate my precise compositional intentions. The tape only represents the pitches and rhythms of the piece, as I generally prefer to leave dynamics and phrasing entirely up to a performer's interpretation.

A bit more about me...I begin studying composition during my high school years with Leo Kraft and continued my studies at Yale with Krzystof Penderecki and Jonathan Kramer, among others. My pieces have been performed in the United States, Germany and Australia and Materials Press in Frankfurt has published several of my scores, including the contrabassoon piece I've described here. (I have their permission to distribute individual copies to perspective performers.)

David Feldman

We're happy to have you: everyone with an interest in music or instruments is welcome. Especially if you're going to expand our repertoire!

I'm sure there must be someone amongst our several contrabassoonists who would like to try your piece, perhaps even to perform at the next ContraFest. Depending on the range (and other characteristics of the piece), I might even try it on the sarrusophone: does it descend below low Db, or require extended techniques particular to the contrabassoon?


From: "Irwin, Mike" <MIrwin@Cinergy.com>
Subject: Short Bio
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 08:07:11 -0500

I am finally getting around to posting a brief bio.

You can classify me as a neophyte contrabass enthusiast, although I have been a musician for most of my life. I ended up playing mostly upper register instruments (alto/tenor sax, flute, mellophonium (the old kind Stan Kenton helped develop)), although I did play the bari sax in a jazz band here in Kentucky at Morehead State University. Growing up I always wanted my singing voice to drop just a bit more, but I ended up a frustrated "2nd tenor".

I have always been facinated by the lower register instruments, and I especially enjoy big band music when the instrumentation is enhanced with a tuba and/or bass trombone to help the lower end. Some of my favorite recordings are those of Stan Kenton, during the times when he used the mellophoniums (sorry, but it's my absolute favorite instrument, I still don't know why!) and tuba to fill out the orchestration.

I hadn't even heard of most of the musical instruments you folks talk about until I began receiving the list. My knowledge grows daily. I'm probably not going to be able to contribute much, but I sure do enjoy reading what the rest of you have to say. Thanks for allowing me to be a part.

Mike Irwin
"Back up my hard drive???? I can't even find the reverse switch!!!!"

Mellophonium? There's one I hadn't heard of (although I'm still catching up on the brass family). Would you mind describing it more?

I agree that bass bone and/or tuba do add quite a bit to the big band sound - especially those Quincy Jones pieces with brass choir sections.


End Contrabass-L No. 77

Back to Index

Next Digest ->