Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 183 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HARMONIC SERIES OF THE CONTRABASS BOMBARDON IN C.* RR -s.. Compass. t** —?— Y---- r -~_ Ito -: * For the Bl bombardon, one tone lower. Air ** Or higher still for a first-rate player with a good lip. 8va Lassa. The lowest notes produced by the valves are very difficult to obtain, for the lips seldom have sufficient power to set in vibration a column of air of such immense length, at a rate of vibration slow enough to synchronize with that of notes of such deep pitch.' Even when they are played, the lowest valve notes can hardly be heard unless doubled an octave higher by another bombardon. Bombardons are generally treated as non-transposing instruments, the music being written as sounded, except in France and Belgium, where transposition is usual. The intervening notes are obtained by means of pistons or valves, which, on being depressed, either admit the wind into additional lengths of tubing to lower the pitch, or cut off a length in order to raise it. Bombardons usually have three or four pistons lowering the pitch of the instrument respectively I, 1, i2 and 22 tones (in Belgium, 1, 2, 2 and 3 tones). The valve system, disposal of the tubing and shape and position of the bell differ considerably in the various models of well-known makers. In Germany and Austria s what is known as the cylinder action is largely used; for the piston or pump is substituted a four-way brass cock operated by means of a key and a series of cranks. In order to obtain a complete chromatic scale throughout the compass, there must be, as on the slide-trombone, seven different positions or lengths of tubing available, each having its harmonic series. These different lengths are obtained on the bombardon by means of a combination of pistons: the simultaneous use of Nos. 2 and 3 lowers the pitch two tones; of Nos. 1, 2 and 3, three tones; of Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, five and a half tones, &c. A combination of pistons, however, fails to give the interval with an absolutely correct intonation, since the length of tubing thrown open is not of the theoretical length required to produce it. Many ingenious contrivances have been invented from time to time to remedy this inherent defect of the valve system, such as the six-valve independent system of Adolphe Sax; the Besson Regisire, giving eight independent positions; the Besson compensating system Transpositeur; the Boosey automatic compensating piston invented by D. J. Blaikley, and V. Mahillon's automatic regulating pistons. More recently the Besson enharmonic valve system, with six independent tuning slides and three pistons, and Rudall, Carte & Company's new (Klussmann's patent) bore, conical throughout the open tube and additional lengths, have produced instruments which leave nothing to be desired as to intonation. (See VALVES and TUBA.) (K. S.)

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