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Bass Oboe


Old King Log
Staff member
I think that I have gone on record before as having never owned, coveted, or even spent the night with an alto clarinet...

(I even refused the offer of a "professional" grade alto clarinet mouthpiece for nothing back when I was an impressionable teenager. So, my opposition to the things is a long-standing and closely held principle.)

I did almost own a bass saxophone (for $600, no less) once...
Luv the video but the comments are just noise. Pinged the owner about just deleting them. Thanks for sharing this! :cool:
I usually leave comments complimenting these sorts of things placed on Youtube. i thought the piano and bass oboe (which i personally think doesn't sound like a typical bass instrument) sounded very nice indeed. It's the least i can do for someone who put time into producing these pleasant videos



Old King Log
Staff member
To be fair, a bassoon played up high sounds even less like a bass instrument...

Forcing horns up high (or down low), out of their "musical" range, can be an unpleasant thing, vis any soprano clarinet above altissimo E. However, hearing the bassoon up high, as it is played in some works by Varése, is an almost otherworldly experience. It reminds me of the first time I heard a loon in the wild - you almost have trouble believing that such a sound exists.
You know, I've always had the philosophy (disclaimer - I am open minded, thinking in terms of guidelines here) that there is a reason that there are sopranino, soprano, alto, bass, contra, etc.
Yeah, you can get cool sounds in the upper registers of a bass something or other, but most of the time it doesn't sound right to me. I feel like if I want to play around most of the time in the upper clarion of the bass clarinet, why don't I get a tenor sax (or do I just need to practice more...).
I understand the reasons for using those registers, but I like to sound a little more natural.
And back to topic, great video of the bass oboe. A unique and beautiful instrument!


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
To be fair, a bassoon played up high sounds even less like a bass instrument...
See (hear, really) Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." No, that's not an oboe solo ....

@ Princess, we've talked at some length regarding instrument/vocal ranges (see http://www.woodwindforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2841). It's always an interesting discussion. Relating to my above comment and yours regarding range, one of the reasons a composer might want (for example) a bassoon to play an oboe part is because it does have a significantly different tone quality and can add a different color to the sound. Inversely, sometimes a bari sax player is playing the bassoon part (for example) because the arranger of the piece either a) thought the bassoon part needed reinforcement or b) he knows his arrangement will be played by a band and he might as well write out doubling stuff. Of course, another reason an arranger would write a piece that's in the "incorrect" range for the instrument is because he's got no idea what he's doing (I've played bari sax parts that go to low F, for instance).

But, let me wax prosaic on tone color.

I'm officially a bass (singer). However, I have a range of approximately 8vb :BassClef::Space2: to :TrebleClef::Line3:. I can sing falsetto to even higher. However, if I'm forced to sing some tenor parts, you really don't want me to sing an exposed part because the sound you'll hear will lack the power of a real tenor and will sound kinda pinched. Need to fill out some ensemble stuff? No problem. Solo? As long as it's not above :TrebleClef::Space1:, fine. Any higher or for solo work, you want a real tenor.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I had been a church musician for years. One of the trends in church music over the past 30 or so years has been the elimination of the bass part. If there is one in name, it's really a tenor II part (for instance, arrangements of the stuff Larnelle Harris or Ron Kenoly sing). I whined to a director once about this: "I've spent a several years and a lot of money to become a really decent classically-trained bass. You're trying to turn me into an average tenor."
I agree whole heartedly with PrincessJ's philosophical outlook especially as it pertains to things saxophonic. Probably the biggest reason I took up the saxophone in my retirement (my first was a soprano, btw) was that it came closer to anything else I'd heard to the human voice.

After some 12 years of learning, acquiring a number of horns along the way (soprillo to bass), I can enjoy the pleasures of singing in many voices - without the imperfections of either falsetto or pedal. [This is not, however, to say I can sing well - yet - in any of the various fach/tessiture, but what a joy to try!]