Posted by Rick Denney on June 30, 2000 at 11:07:46:
In Reply to: Re: Re: 4/4, 5/4, Monster! posted by Mike on June 30, 2000 at 10:05:15:
The difference has more to do with total volume than bore size or pitch.
The real problem is that there are no standards for these terms. Manufacturers apply these labels as much to position a certain horn in the market as to be descriptive. Often, it is the distributor who applies the term rather than the maker.
For example, my Yamaha 621 F is listed as a 3/4 instrument, when it has (nearly) identical volume to the 621 BBb, which is also listed as a 3/4. Really, it is a 4/4, for an F, and compares to standard (therefore 4/4) Eb tubas of yesteryear. Yamaha might have used the term because the horn is wrapped tightly into a smaller package, but it's more probable that they wanted to distinguish it from their larger instruments.
Another example: A Cerveny Piggy is a small CC, wrapped tightly with smaller outer branches and a small bell. It is considerably smaller than the Cerveny "4/4" instruments, but it is really also a 4/4, because of the way it plays.
That leads to a completely subjective determination: Horns are categorized by players by how they play. Horns that play like a very large horn (the epitome of which is the Chicago York) are classed as 6/4, even though some are smaller (and some are larger). Most large rotary horns that are classed as 5/4 have a larger bore (but a smaller bell). The big Alexanders that were popular among orchestral players before the York copies were available are usually called 5/4 horns, but they aren't physically that much bigger than many horns classed as 4/4 horns but that don't make as big a sound.
I'm looking at a horn that probably seems like a 4/4, if you measure it with a ruler. But it plays bigger, and based on my impression of the comments of those who have played it, it's more of a 5/4.
I'd personally like to see a standardized system based on volume, but that's the engineer in me. Even if we had such a system, it would not be a final way of determining the playing characteristics of the instrument. For that, ears are the only arbiter.
Rick "Fuzzy" Denney