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Contrabass Trombone: Saint-Saens

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Published on Mar 20, 2010

The rare contrabass trombone is a very loud and powerful instrument. I'm convinced it can also be an instrument of warmth and beauty. In the few days I had access to one I wasn't able to fully achieve that beauty. Nonetheless, I think this video has a few glimpses of the richness possible from this unwieldy beast.

For this video I adapted "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saens. This piece is orginally for solo cello with a flowing accompaniment. It is from a larger work called "Carnival of the Animals."




There are almost no recordings of contrabass trombone playing alone, so I wanted to post a video that would give people a chance to hear the instrument by itself when it isn't blasting from the depths of an opera pit. Playing Saint-Saens' wonderful solo line (down a few octaves) seemed like a nice way to try and share the gentler side of the contrabass trombone.

In February 2010 I had a week-long opportunity to double on contrabass for the first time in my life! Adjusting to the instrument's different positions and very large mouthpiece was a welcome challenge. I made this recording on my fifth day with the instrument. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive my technical shortcomings. (This video does contain one audio edit at 0:54. The other camera changes are simply for visual effect, and to give viewers a better look at the instrument.)

My orchestra rented this contrabass from Juilliard. It is a HAAG contrabass pitched in F. (Yes, the positions are different than they are on bass trombone.) The mouthpiece is a "JK EXCLUSIVE KBP 1B"

Every bass trombonist fantasizes about playing contrabass, so finally getting to play one after so many years of waiting was a dream come true. Many thanks to the folks at my orchestra who made this possible.

I hope everyone enjoys hearing the contrabass trombone!!!

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