Re: Range of Besson 983?

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Posted by semi-serious reply on January 26, 2001 at 22:36:29:

In Reply to: Range of Besson 983? posted by Bill Schultz on January 26, 2001 at 19:55:00:

I'm a lazy amateur tubist who plays with quartet and quintet, using the Besson 983 Eb. On the low end, playing down to the pedal BBBb - AAAb range isn't too difficult, but that's about it for me, and don't ask for any speed with these notes. (This would be about 6 ledger lines below the staff.) At the high end, with quite an embouchure shift (hope I spelled that somewhat close) I can squeek out the trumpet tuning BBb. So there's your 4 octave range.

I'm presently using a PT-72 mouthpiece, which I find helps the low, compensating notes speak ("pop-out", commence, etc.) more quickly -- i.e. better response. But the PT-72 isn't a small, Eb/F tuba mpc, so a smaller diameter cup might improve the high end a bit. However, the Sheridan solo mpc (Dillon) measures in at just a shade less than 32mm (31.8mm), I've been told, and that's still larger than the 24AW, Wick 4, Wick 5, etc. So Pat isn't using a ultra-small mpc to get his high range -- it's just Pat!

Comfortably, this instrument (and I) can handle the three octaves from the pedal Eb to the high Eb above middle C. But I don't have to play many notes above middle C, so I'm not personally completely comfortable in that last 1/3 octave.

Pat Sheridan ends at least one of his recordings on the high Bb, and makes it sound effortless. I have a gracious email reply from him in my inbox where he comments that he'd probably choose a different horn if he had to play extensive literature with multiple ledger lines below the staff. I would quickly agree, as the compensating low register doesn't play as easily for me as the rest of the range of the horn (or the rest of my range, more correctly). So the Besson 983 isn't optimized for low register playing - a contrabass tuba would be easier for me to play really low stuff on.

As to the range of a good set of bagpipes, I've heard that's about 50' if you've got an exceptionally good arm . . . .

Steve Inman
Kokomo, IN

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