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Jazz Basset Horn

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#3
One thinks that the folks at Conn-Selmer-Steinway-whatever will not be standing by the telephones, order blanks in hand.

I wonder why it was imperative to be doing these things on a basset horn, as opposed to (say) an A clarinet or alto clarinet?

About fifteen years ago, I had an opportunity to pick up a Selmer basset horn for a relative song (about $2,000). I passed on same, just like I did on the Bundy contra-alto for about a tenth as much. No point in tying up funds in horns that seldom, if ever, would be used. I hope that they found a good home for it.
 

Heckelphone

Double Reed CE
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#5
Why not?

I wonder why it was imperative to be doing these things on a basset horn, as opposed to (say) an A clarinet or alto clarinet?
Variety, perhaps?

He plays soprano clarinet in other clips. I suspect that he used the BH because he had one. If you got to choose between using BH or alto clarinet, which would you go with ? ;-)
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#9
One day, many years ago, I visited the "pro shop" for the Brook Mays music conglomerate, located in a gritty industrial area just to the west of downtown Dallas TX.

(Just why I went there that time, I don't recall. I was probably looking for a new alto case. I do know that I was in Dallas to accept an award from real work.)

At any rate, the pro shop was co-located with the firm's main repair facility, where they worked on hundreds of "school horns" every week. During my visit, they were in the throes of getting the late summer group of horns processed and back to the schools in time for opening day.

So, after looking at whatever I was there for, I turned to leave the facility, whereupon I then saw "the pile".

Behind a counter (which had hidden them when I entered the shop) was a three foot tall stack of harmony clarinets. Visualize a small stack of long, thin firewood, all of it black with silver trim, maybe a yard tall and four feet wide, pinned between the counter and a couple of chairs.

All were stripped of bells and necks, and many were missing portions of the mechanisms as well, since they were being used as a source of parts for repair of other instruments that came through the shop. And, the vast majority (maybe three or four to one ratio) were alto clarinets.

Well, I have to say that I was encouraged by what I saw. The technician next to the pile told me that they were seeing fewer and fewer alto clarinets as the years went on, and that he felt that they could probably ditch the majority of the pile as there was so little call for it. He also said that the main call on the pile was for the long keys on the "lower joint" of the bass clarinets, which makes sense. (I never did ask what happened to all of the bells and the necks.)

With some hot glue and a little creative notching and "log cabin" stacking, there were enough altos there to make a nice little composting box. Or, a part of a lawn irrigation system. The mind boggles...
 
#10
I don't really understand comments about it being non-standard. It's like someone posts a classical music clip and someone posts about it being classical. Before I practiced a lot mand managed to understand "strange" music, which works on the same most basic principal as the most classical/mainstream music, I could thinksome of it was strange (but not that I would post that opinion).

I wonder why it was imperative to be doing these things on a basset horn, as opposed to (say) an A clarinet or alto clarinet?
Just because something is standard it doesn't get imunity from being questioned! If you are asking this, you would also need to ask the same question if it was an alto or an A clarinet. Would you?

In this clip (which to me is mostly usual in many ways) the tone and ideas are completely different than a soprano (A) clarinet, so that's not even a question IMO. Why not alto clarinet is a good question initially, because the sound is very similar, but he uses the lower note which the alto doesn't have. So the question is why alto clarinet? And just for that reason (there a few others) it is enough to prefer the basset over the alto. I can't find a reason to prefer alto clarinet here.

Does he play alto clarinet on any other piece? I have no idea but he has the basset horn for that purpose.

For the person who said he uses it because he has it, that makes a lot of sense. However I don't think someone just randomly buys a basset horn. Much more likely that he CHOSE to buy it with the intention of using it.

It's interesting that he is wearing sun glasses. The fact that no one else there is wearing them makes me think there isn't an especially bright light in their eyes, so it's not so surprising that the person doing the anusual thing also choose the unusual instrument. Of course it's possible he just has especially sensitive eyes (I do, but I don't wear sun glasses in concerts, but maybe his are a lot more sensitive). Maybe just his personality.
 

Heckelphone

Double Reed CE
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#11
Marimba Plus

If you check the band's website, it says that:
The members of the “Marimba Plus” are the young professional musicians, who have graduated from the Russian Gnesin Music Academy and Moscow State Conservatory, and have won prizes at foreign competitions and festivals.
I suspect the basset horn player also uses the instrument for classical pursuits, and already had the horn for that reason.

Sure, it is a relatively rare horn, but jazz has a tradition of using the unusual. Apart from the fact that there just aren't that many basset horns around, its use here is no more peculiar than using, say, a bass clarinet, alto flute, tubax or sarrusophone :-D
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#13
The penalty of having an idle mind while thinking about harmony clarinets

And, here's my latest flash of musical inspiration: an extended range alto clarinet. The only improvement for the nominally useless instrument that would give people less of a reason to own one...

If Leblanc's management was still in full control of their brand, this would be the sort of thing that they would essay. I'm not holding my breath waiting for any of the others, however.
 
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