The ophicleide is/was the logical extension of the keyed
bugle. Prior to the development of valves, brass instruments were either
equipped with slides (as in the sackbut/trombone and slide trumpet), or
played only the natural overtones (as in the natural trumpets and horns),
or varied the effective pipe length by means of fingerholes (as in the
Keyed bugles were essentially bugles with 9-11 padded
keys (similar to modern saxophone keys). The keys allowed performers an
essentially chromatic scale. The ophicleide is essentially the 8' (sounding
length) version of the keyed bugle. It is said to be the foundation for
the bass saxophone. Before the invention of valves and the tuba, the ophicleide
was the most common bass voice in the orchestral brass section.
The Chestnut Brass Company "Pastime with Good Company"
(1988, Crystal Records CD562). This CD includes several tracks employing
a C ophicleide and its alto equivalent (the Eb quintclave): Conrad Fay:"Wrecker's
Daughter Quickstep", Francis Johnson:"Dirge", and Louis Jullien:"Prima
H. Berlioz "Symphonie Fantastique" (1993, Philips 434 402-2)
(Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner
cond.). This recording features the use of authentic period instruments,
and employs ophicleide and serpent.
H. Berlioz "Messe Solennelle" (1994, Philips 442 137-2) (Orchestre
Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot
Gardiner cond.). This recording features the use of authentic period instruments,
and employs ophicleide, buccin and serpent
for low brass.
De Organographia "The One Horse Open Sleigh" (1996,
Pandourion Records, PRCD1004). This excellent Christmas CD features
one track ("The First Nowell") for two ophicleides. The rest
of the CD features other period instruments, including a track ("Hark!
the Herald Angels Sing") arranged for A/T/B/Contrabass
to Discography Index