Taming the Beast -Advanced Orchestration for Contrabassoon – Part 4 – Orchestral Combinations

Today, I will look at some common and not so common orchestral combinations involving the Contrabassoon.

Contra and Basses

This is by far the most common orchestration device for the Contrabassoonist.  Assuming a large section of Basses (6 or more), the Contra’s sound, in unison, will blend in and not make much of an impact.  The real reason for this is to add solidity to the bottom of the orchestra.

To best illustrate how this works, I will use a personal experience.   Continue reading “Taming the Beast -Advanced Orchestration for Contrabassoon – Part 4 – Orchestral Combinations”

Taming the Beast – Advanced Orchestrating for Contrabassoon – Part 3 – Dynamics

One of the biggest complains I’ve heard from fellow Contrabassoonists is about the extremes of dynamics.  While the Contra is an instrument of extreme depth, it is not an instrument of extreme dynamics.

Imagine if we will a simple volume continuum from 1 to 10.  One being the softest and 10 being the loudest. At the soft end, we have the near nothingness of a clarinet’s niente.  I will call this a 1 dynamic.  At the loud end, we have any of the heavy brass playing at their absolute fortissimo. We will call this a 10.  There is no Spinal Tap 11.  The Contrabassoon cannot play at either of these extremes. Continue reading “Taming the Beast – Advanced Orchestrating for Contrabassoon – Part 3 – Dynamics”