Topic: Subcontrabassoon??

Hello there,

I was reading a romanian dictionary/encyclopedia one day, and while reading the article on the bassoon, the dictionary stated that two other varients of the bassoon exist, the Contrabassoon, and the Subcontrabassoon. I was extremeely puzzled, as I had never heard of such a thing. The defintion/article on the Subcontrabassoo said : A type of bassoon, with a sound lower than the bassoon and contrabassoon.
The only bassoon-like instrument that is lower by default than the Contra is the Contraforte (which is only lower by one semitone) but that couldn't be it, as the dictionary is from the 70s.
Surely the instrument couldn't be an octave lower than the contra, that would just be monstrous... If it does exist, i would think it would be a transposing instrument, like the tenoroon

Has anybody every heard of a subcontrabassoon, or anything related? I haven't even heard of a Subcontrabass Sarrusophone...

My bassoon sig tongue
http://www.freewebs.com/thi13een/Arcanius_BassoonB%20copy.jpg

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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

Never heard of it.  Some googling turns up a few things.

http://www.contrabass.com/1998/1998-11-30.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=39I9AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA142&lpg=PA142&dq=subcontrabassoon&source=bl&ots=2EydBGf8uv&sig=8HDDFPQNZkm6eraJ611VGsyAscg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA142,M1

The latter link mentions something that I first thought: you cannot hear the fundamental pitches played by an instrument an octave below the contra bassoon.  They're beyond the range of human hearing.  You can only hear the upper partials.

This source debunks the actual existence of such an instrument:
http://www.idrs.org/publications/DR/DR12.1/DR12.1.Finkelman.Contra.html
Searching for the author turns up some good stuff:
http://www.jstor.org/pss/841540
This article can probably be browsed in full from your local university library.

Last edited by Trent (2009-01-11 18:19:44)

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Subcontrabassoon??

I anticipate that the alone bassoon-like apparatus that is lower by absence than the Contra is the Contraforte (which is alone lower by one semitone) but that couldn't be it, as the concordance is from the 70s.




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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

I would guess that the subcontrabassoon would not be a whole octave below the bassoon if Trent's claim is true (which it probably is). On the saxophone, the difference between the contrabass saxophone and the tubax (portable subcontrabass) is only a few semitones I believe. Think of it like the difference between an A clarinet and a Basset clarinet. Same thing, but the Basset is keyed to low C.

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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

The Eb tubax (http://www.eppelsheim.com/tubax.php?lang=en) descends to Db1 (i.e., lowest Db on the piano), the same as the contrabass sax and the Eb contrabass sarrusophone. Eppelsheim, who invented the tubax, also makes an Eb contrabass sax with a low A (C1 concert), and a Bb tubax, with range to Ab0 (a semitone below the piano).

I don't know of any ubercontrabassoon, apart from a few with custom extensions to low Ab or G. There were, however, a few octocontrabass clarinets made by Leblanc: 3 in Eb, with range to Eb0, and one in Bb with range to Bb0 (nearly an octave below the piano). It *is* possible to hear such pitches: this is why pipe organs have 32' stops (and sometimes 64' stops).

Enjoy,

Grant

==============================
Grant D. Green -- http://www.contrabass.com
Heckelphone, Sarrusophone, Reed Contrabass

Re: Subcontrabassoon??

Sarrusophone wrote:

It *is* possible to hear such pitches: this is why pipe organs have 32' stops (and sometimes 64' stops).

Enjoy,

Grant

Even more important, we can hear the effects of those pipe organ stops on other notes.

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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

Sorry, but I have to disagree. I have no trouble hearing those frequencies as musical pitches. If you talk to people who frequently play contrabassoon, or tuba, or string bass, or other instruments in that register, they will all tell you that they hear those frequencies as pitches. While I admit that not everybody hears those pitches, I suspect that the researchers who came up with the "20-20KHz" hearing range didn't test any tuba players wink

==============================
Grant D. Green -- http://www.contrabass.com
Heckelphone, Sarrusophone, Reed Contrabass

Re: Subcontrabassoon??

Christopher Brodersen wrote:

You're not getting the point.
Reed stops, such as a posaune, are another matter. You can tell what note is being played, but that's because they produce a lot of overtones.

That's the part that's most important here I believe.  You cannot hear the fundamental of those pitches played on an organ, but the combination of you feeling them in your body and the overtones of those notes makes you think you can.  There's a physical limit here since the human ear drum is only so large, so don't pretend otherwise.

Elephants, however, can indeed hear those pitches (in fact, they communicate with those sounds over long distances like AM radio waves in the ground or something like that).

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Subcontrabassoon??

(As a frequent contra player) No wonder I like elephants!  :0)

David Bell
Alexandria, VA

David Bell
Alexandria, VA
amateur bassoon and contra bassoon

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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

Don't know why, but this thread reminds me of the story about how Tom Waites was attempting to figure out the harmonic resonating frequency of the human colon.  Why?...  He wanted to incorporate it into a song and play it at live performances so the audience would feel the need to... well... you know...         Strange guy, Tom Waites.  Thankfully, the harmonic resonating frequency of the human colon is still a mystery!

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."  --Jimi Hendrix

Music Stand Shelves (reed cases, mandrels, & drying racks coming soon):
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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

South Park did an episode on the "Brown Note" as well.  I have a feeling the story about Tom Waits is fabricated (or at least just another story that he B.S.'d to an interviewer for his own amusement).

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Subcontrabassoon??

The Mythbusters did an episode on the "brown note" and concluded that it was just myth.

"There are 2 means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats" - Albert Schweitzer

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Re: Subcontrabassoon??

See this post about subcontrabassoon:

http://www.idrs.org/IDRSBBS/viewtopic.php?id=16679

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