Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Right, now I've got the beast, what kind of tone should I go for?

Bright and reedy? Or full, dark and round?

I'm taken by both, though feel the fuller, darker and rounder tone (with a shade of reediness) is probably the better to blend in with others - not that I have subjected anyone to my contra playing yet.

Has to be said it's a pretty easy instrument to get around, though not too easy to get around with - getting it through my front door and into my living room isn't easy with the length of the case catching on everything in front and behind it, and stairs that double back on themselves are interesting too.

But it fits perfectly in me motor.
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,207 Posts
My favorite Contra player is Arlen Fast of the New York Phil. He has his own design to aid in high register playing. I believe Fox makes his signature model
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Old King Log
Joined
·
801 Posts
Chris Peryagh said:
Has to be said it's a pretty easy instrument to get around, though not too easy to get around with - getting it through my front door and into my living room isn't easy with the length of the case catching on everything in front and behind it, and stairs that double back on themselves are interesting too.
Welcome to the world of baritone sax/bass clarinet doubling. I don't allow my son to move my horns into the house simply because I know that he won't pay attention to the woodwork like I do. So far, after fifteen years of running them (and other long music stuff) in and out of the 'garage to utility nook to kitchen' gauntlet, I've not once mashed up the doors or trim.

Whatever tonal decisions you decide to follow, I hope and pray that you go for the sarrusophone tone (i.e., raspy and rough) when playing The Sorcerer's Apprentice solo line in the middle of the work. The "French style" seems to make the contra line there mate better with the bass clarinet in harmony than does the traditional contra bassoon tone (less reedy, more refined).
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I was listening to the contra solo in Ravel's 'Mother Goose' suite, and that needs to be rasping and threatening (as it's depicting the beast) - especially for the large drop from mid Eb to low E (and the same intervals when this sequence comes around again).

But Beethoven, Brahms and Richard Strauss need to be refined (but still with some grunt where needed) - so it's good to have the choice of sounds and use them where appropriate.

Now my neighbours will have to put up with me making more noise now I've got a bigger case than my bari case - they're probably already p***ed off with me gettng back in the small hours lugging my bari and alto around and using the bari case to close the door behind me once I'm in! I need a new front door anyway.

Looking at French orchestral requirements, they specify French system bassoon but German system contra. It's not difficult to convert a German system contra to French system (or something along the lines of one) - and I may do this to mine. Mostly the left thumb keys having the Eb and C# keys brought round to the thumb cluster, and a LH pinly C# key - as well as rollers for the RH 3 and Bb key. I know Heckel offered this as an option on their contras for French system players, but a Heckel contra is way out of my budget! It's probably due to the availability of the German system contras off the shelf that the French players have adopted it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
hakukani said:
My favorite Contra player is Arlen Fast of the New York Phil. He has his own design to aid in high register playing. I believe Fox makes his signature model
Are there any detailed pictures of the Arlen Fast system contras to be found online? I'm finding some limitations with the 8ve vents on the Amati causing fuzzy tones (on the upper C with the doubled lower vents and D with the upper single one), so it's a case of finding the fingerings which work best and clearest for these notes, though I play middle C# as xxxC#|xxxF and D as xxxC#|xxx and Eb and upwards with the upper 8ve key. And the 'open F' can be played as low F with LH 1 off, so avoiding going below the break for an isolated F if that's the lowest note of a group, keeping the same tone quality.

Some interesting things I have found is that a lot of slurred intervals can be played with ease - such as a slur from low F to low Eb,D,C,B and Bb by playing the lower of the notes (eg. low C) but with the right thumb off for the F, then put the right thumb down for the C so slurred intervals can pretty much be done by moving one or two fingers at the most. Kinda like what I do on bari sax when slurring from F to low Bb - holding the low Bb and C keys closed while playing F, I just close RH 2 and 3 for the low Bb. And having lower keys closed adds to the resonance of the upper notes.
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,207 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
As a contra player myself, I suggest you focus on producing a full, rich organ-pipe tone first - it aids in your pitch support, projection and depth of sound. It's easy to force and get a harsh, reedy tone when appropriate, but the ability to add breadth and depth to it will make it all the more musical.
Once you can produce a full, sonorous tone, then you can easily go about finding your "aggressive voice", so to speak.
Also, when only using the harsh, reedy approach, I find that there is less note definition when slurring, and the instrument actually becomes what people joke about it being - a blurt machine, so as long as you CAN produce a full tone, do what feels right at the time.
Just my grain of salt.
hope it helps
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,112 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks. My instinct is indeed to develop the fuller and more solid tone and get that set before doing other things with it.

It's like some sax players that fart around on bari sax and never develop a tone that the instrument requires. Just a weak, pitchless buzz that doesn't offer any resemblance of tonal support to the section.

Low reeds of all types do need tone (as do all instruments of all sizes), otherwise you might as well just use a kazoo to save the expense, or trap a swarm of wasps in a tin foil bag (with the added element of danger there!).

It's even possible to get tone on a contrabass rackett, if you like that sort of thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Seek out a real teacher - last I heard Edgar Williams was still active...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
I hope and pray that you go for the sarrusophone tone (i.e., raspy and rough) when playing The Sorcerer's Apprentice solo line in the middle of the work.
Sorry.

I play Eb Contrabass Sarrusophone; and its tone is full and warm, nicer than contrabassoon.
It takes a long double reed (9.5 cm) to get the nice, smooth sound.

Herbert
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top