Mystery instrument

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by George BB, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. George BB

    George BB Member

    A lady asked me what a strange instrument was that she had seen in an orchestra. It was very like a valved trombone but sat upright in front of the player with the bell at the top and pointing forward. Now I had seen one of these at a Tuba and Euphonium symposium several years ago at the RNCM Manchester, so I could tell her what it was. Except that my memory went off line and the name escapes me completely. Can any body help please. I remember that it was Italian and only scored for in a handful of operas which ties in with where it was seen and I do remember that it was very loud when played.
  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

  3. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

  4. bbocaner

    bbocaner New Member

    Actually, there are NO operas that are scored for the modern cimbasso. A lot of italian 19th century operas are scored for the historic cimbasso, but that's a MUCH different instrument which sounds more like a euphonium or a small bass tuba. The modern cimbasso is just a concession to economics that allows a tuba player to cover a fourth trombone part. Granted -- that fourth trombone part was probably originally a valved contrabass trombone, but it certainly wasn't the same animal as the modern cimbasso.
  5. George BB

    George BB Member

    Thanks everybody, that is the one. I had almost remembered the name but had been searching for Cym rather than Cim.
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  7. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Worth remembering that the old valve trombones (used in the Italian and French opera houses) were built to a similar configuration - a great space-saver, and ergonomic too, as the instrument can rest on the floor.

    The cimbasso is effectively the bass member of that family of trombones; it's survived as it can't be replaced by a comparable instrument. Far from being used in a 'handful' of operas, it's the staple bass instrument for the brass family in the vast majority of that repertoire. Even after the tuba came to prominence in the later 19th century, its bigger, 'woofy' sound is less well-suited to accompanying voices - Puccini scored his operas for three trombones and 'trombone basso' (ie. cimbasso) into the twentieth century.