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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000663.txt from 1997/12

From: Grant Green <gdgreen@-----.com>
Subj: Contra arranging...
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 16:07:09 -0500

On Fri, 12 Dec 1997, Roger Shilcock said:
>In fact, there has been (perhaps still is) a "tenoroon". I think it was a
>fourth higher than the bassoon.
>Roger SHilcock

I think the tenoroon is essentially extinct as a serious instrument. You
*can* still buy a beginner's instrument pitched a fourth higher (like a
tenoroon), with simplified keywork for small children. The bassoon's
ancestor, the dulcian (aka curtal), came in a whole range of sizes from
soprano to great bass (with bass corresponding to today's bassoon). I have
a soprano curtal: its about 10" tall. BTW, it sounds nothing like an oboe.

>On Thu, 11 Dec 1997, Bill Hausmann wrote:
>> At 06:29 PM 12/11/97 PST, you wrote:
>> > I suppose that Stravinsky was being silly when he wrote the opening
>> > solo in the Rite of Spring for very high bassoon instead of, say,
>> > oboe.
>> > Jeff Chan

There is a story (possibly apocryphal) that Stravinsky heard a number of
bassoon players practicing or warming up on the RoS solo while touring a
music college, and remarked to his guide that he would have written the
solo up a fifth if he had known it would be that easy to play.

>> > on 12/11/97 at 6:31 PM, Bill Hausmann wrote:
>> > Actually, yes, but what is the point of playing altissimo on
>> > contrabass when you could use clarion on bass, or possibly even
>> > chalumeau on soprano to play the same note, most likely with better
>> > tone and intonation? Yes, you can do it, and it is done. But isn't
>> > it sort of silly?
>> Oboe and bassoon differ enough from each other to negate your argument,
>> although I frequently harass oboists by referring to their instrument as
>> the soprano "oon". (Why is there no tenor in the oon family?) In some
>> cases, especially in recent music, a particular effect is desired requiring
>> a particular timbre achievable only by stretching the range of an
>> instrument. But, in the main, it is still silly.

Bassoons and oboes are distinct families of instruments, having different
bore profiles. Even apart from the obviously different keywork, scaling
the oboe up by a factor of 4 (to reach bassoon size) would result in a
contrabass oboe, not a bassoon. They would sound distinctly different,
just as the great bass shawm does not sound like a bassoon (or bass
dulcian).

Hmmmmm, contrabass oboe....

With regard to arranging, there's nothing inherently wrong with writing
some of the lower horns above the higher horns. Used sparingly, it can be
a good effect. I just played a flute choir piece in which the alto flute
ends with a high Eb (above the staff), which is the highest note in the
final chord. Clearly, a C flute could play the note more easily, but on
alto the note sang out like a high harmonic - to good effect. Also, it was
the natural culmination of a rising line.

Altissimo G on an Eb contra *does* sound a bit extreme (and causes one to
wonder if the arranger *really* knew what he was doing), but in general I
would assume it was done purposely, for effect.

Grant Green

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Grant D. Green gdgreen@-----.com
www.contrabass.com Just filling in on sarrusophone
Contrabass email list: contrabass-list@-----.com
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