Bix's Newsreel Cornet, part II

Bix's Newsreel Cornet, part II

Frank van Nus
Frank van Nus

April 14th, 2009, 9:25 pm #1


Last week I promised a follow-up on the subject of Bix's cornet in the Movietone newsreel. And so, here are my findings.

I took one of the frames from the newsreel, and placed it next to a couple of black-and-white photographs: one of my 1960 Bach Stradivarius cornet and one of my 1929 Holton Clarke cornet.

I very carefully tried to replicate the angle at which Bix is holding his cornet in the new pictures. After that, I aligned mouthpiece and valves as well as possible in the adjacent pictures.

These aligned photographs have been linked by Albert at: http://bixography.com/FoxFilm/bix1928bachholton.pdf

Examining the results, I conclude that the Bach looks very similar, if not identical, to the cornet in the newsreel frame, whereas the Holton doesn't match it. For a start, the newsreel cornet has what looks distinctly like the Bach's diagonal brace between mouthpipe and bell, which the Holton doesn't have. It also appears to have a pink hook on the mouthpipe which, again, the Holton doesn't have. Furthermore, the Holton first valve slide aligns inside the bell bow quite differently from the newsreel cornet (a matter of construction).

But the decisive feature is the first bend of the mouthpipe. On the Bach, this bend starts after about 8 inches of straight tubing. On the Holton Clarke it starts after 10 3/4 inch. In the newsreel frame, the bend can be seen to start more or less directly after the mouthpipe passes the valve casing. If this had been a Holton, the mouthpipe would have extended much further downward, until part of it would have been obscured by the head of the musician sitting in the foreground.

There are a few minute differences between the proportions of a 1960 Bach Strad and a 1920s one. Although these do not amount to anything of significance in terms of the comparisons I have made above, for the sake of completeness I am also adding a picture of Bix's #620. But even so, the similarities are obvious, as are the differences with the Holton Clarke cornet.

Frank

Again, the link to the aligned photographs: http://bixography.com/FoxFilm/bix1928bachholton.pdf

And Bix's Bach Stradivarius #620:


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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 15th, 2009, 8:50 am #2

Apparently Scott Black has a pristine copy of the film in question. If so, maybe the distinction between Cornet, Shirt, Hand, Fingers and Reflections will become more obvious. It was once proposed that the instrument was a Conn Victor because in one frame it seemed that the top of the tuning device could be seen. In fact this turned out to be part of Bix's shirt collar. I can see what may be the diagonal brace in one frame and then it disappears in other frames. So I believe it to be shadow.I also cannot see the bend in the leadpipe in the forward Bach position. I can see Bix's hand however curving downwards. In the frame that Frank has loaded I think I can see the leadpipe extending beyond Bix's hand , certainly as far as the Holton would. I don't actually see an obvious end to the first valve slide which would prove anything one way or the other.
What I can see, however, at 1.27 of the film are three parallel tubes all reflecting the light. These, I think are the top and bottom of the third valve slide and the Holton tuning slide. The Bach tuning slide is in an entirely different place.
I am going to continue to examine frame by frame the film and maybe post some more on this.
One further point is that I am using a 1930 New York Bach Strad as my comparator. As Frank has said, there are some differences to a more modern Bach. I'm not quite sure what they are as I no longer have a modern one but I think the space between the top and bottom of the tuning slide is wider on a modern one. Whether that alters anything else, and whether the space between the top and bottom of the valve slides is any different or the position of the mouthpiece receiver is any different, I just don't know.
Malcolm
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 15th, 2009, 10:55 am #3

Last week I promised a follow-up on the subject of Bix's cornet in the Movietone newsreel. And so, here are my findings.

I took one of the frames from the newsreel, and placed it next to a couple of black-and-white photographs: one of my 1960 Bach Stradivarius cornet and one of my 1929 Holton Clarke cornet.

I very carefully tried to replicate the angle at which Bix is holding his cornet in the new pictures. After that, I aligned mouthpiece and valves as well as possible in the adjacent pictures.

These aligned photographs have been linked by Albert at: http://bixography.com/FoxFilm/bix1928bachholton.pdf

Examining the results, I conclude that the Bach looks very similar, if not identical, to the cornet in the newsreel frame, whereas the Holton doesn't match it. For a start, the newsreel cornet has what looks distinctly like the Bach's diagonal brace between mouthpipe and bell, which the Holton doesn't have. It also appears to have a pink hook on the mouthpipe which, again, the Holton doesn't have. Furthermore, the Holton first valve slide aligns inside the bell bow quite differently from the newsreel cornet (a matter of construction).

But the decisive feature is the first bend of the mouthpipe. On the Bach, this bend starts after about 8 inches of straight tubing. On the Holton Clarke it starts after 10 3/4 inch. In the newsreel frame, the bend can be seen to start more or less directly after the mouthpipe passes the valve casing. If this had been a Holton, the mouthpipe would have extended much further downward, until part of it would have been obscured by the head of the musician sitting in the foreground.

There are a few minute differences between the proportions of a 1960 Bach Strad and a 1920s one. Although these do not amount to anything of significance in terms of the comparisons I have made above, for the sake of completeness I am also adding a picture of Bix's #620. But even so, the similarities are obvious, as are the differences with the Holton Clarke cornet.

Frank

Again, the link to the aligned photographs: http://bixography.com/FoxFilm/bix1928bachholton.pdf

And Bix's Bach Stradivarius #620:


It must have been time-consuming to align and resize the two images for an effective comparison.

Your analysis seems to me to be very persuasive. In particular, and considering the low quality of the available images, the position of the first bend in the mouthpipe is a crucial feature in distinguishing between the Bach and the Holton. I see clearly, in the image you provided in the pdf file, where the bend occurs in the cornet in the Fox film. As you say, that feature matches the Bach, but not the Holton.

Albert
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 15th, 2009, 11:25 am #4

Last week I promised a follow-up on the subject of Bix's cornet in the Movietone newsreel. And so, here are my findings.

I took one of the frames from the newsreel, and placed it next to a couple of black-and-white photographs: one of my 1960 Bach Stradivarius cornet and one of my 1929 Holton Clarke cornet.

I very carefully tried to replicate the angle at which Bix is holding his cornet in the new pictures. After that, I aligned mouthpiece and valves as well as possible in the adjacent pictures.

These aligned photographs have been linked by Albert at: http://bixography.com/FoxFilm/bix1928bachholton.pdf

Examining the results, I conclude that the Bach looks very similar, if not identical, to the cornet in the newsreel frame, whereas the Holton doesn't match it. For a start, the newsreel cornet has what looks distinctly like the Bach's diagonal brace between mouthpipe and bell, which the Holton doesn't have. It also appears to have a pink hook on the mouthpipe which, again, the Holton doesn't have. Furthermore, the Holton first valve slide aligns inside the bell bow quite differently from the newsreel cornet (a matter of construction).

But the decisive feature is the first bend of the mouthpipe. On the Bach, this bend starts after about 8 inches of straight tubing. On the Holton Clarke it starts after 10 3/4 inch. In the newsreel frame, the bend can be seen to start more or less directly after the mouthpipe passes the valve casing. If this had been a Holton, the mouthpipe would have extended much further downward, until part of it would have been obscured by the head of the musician sitting in the foreground.

There are a few minute differences between the proportions of a 1960 Bach Strad and a 1920s one. Although these do not amount to anything of significance in terms of the comparisons I have made above, for the sake of completeness I am also adding a picture of Bix's #620. But even so, the similarities are obvious, as are the differences with the Holton Clarke cornet.

Frank

Again, the link to the aligned photographs: http://bixography.com/FoxFilm/bix1928bachholton.pdf

And Bix's Bach Stradivarius #620:


I have looked some more and this is a list of what I think I can see.
All references are to elapsed time on the utube clip.
1.12 The bend in the leadpipe aligns with the Holton not the Bach
1.12 The mouthpiece receiver aligns with the Holton not the Bach
1.13 Ditto
1.13 Bend in the leadpipe again
1.14 Ditto
1.27 Ditto
1.27 Curvature of bell pipe (at mouthpiece end) matches Holton profile (absolutey rounded), rather than the Bach which is slightly squarer.
1.27 First valve slide further back than Bach and matches Holton
1.27 Mouthpiece recever position again (as above)

The frames at 1.27 move very rapidly: all the references I list at 1.27 are not necessarily on the same frame.

Malcolm
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 15th, 2009, 1:02 pm #5

I don't want to burden you with more work. Clearly, you have spent quite a bit of time analyzing the film and comparing the images with actual Bach and Holton cornets. I appreciate, as I am sure other forumites do, all you have done toward helping to solve the question of the identity of the cornet Bix plays in the Fox film.

To facilitate comparisons, would it be possible to provide relevant images for one or two examples of what you view as decisive pieces of evidence? It would be very instructive if you could provide side by side images of the Fox cornet and of a Bach and a Holton in the same positions. This way the features that help distinguishing between a Bach and a Holton by comparison with the Fox cornet could be better appreciated.

Thanks very much.

Albert

I would be happy to upload the necessary images in any posting you wish to make. If you decide to send images, jpgs would be perfect to include in the body of the message.
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 16th, 2009, 8:14 am #6

Albert,
I would really like to capture frames from the film, add a pointer to the area in question and make a digital photo of my own instrument for comparison. I don't really have the correct set of skills (when I started work computers were non-existant outside of research organisations and I have only learned so much since then - clearly not enough!). However, if this issue is still alive after I return from holiday at the end of this month, I will ask a computer literate friend to help me.
Malcolm
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 16th, 2009, 4:48 pm #7

Something else I have just spotted. As Bix is beginning to lower the cornet at 1.27 (again!) you can at one point notice the position of his thumb: resting alongside the third valve slide. There is nothing but his shirt visible above his thumb and below the leadpipe. If this was a Bach there would most definitely be the back end of the tuning slide visible in this gap. Also,in the same frame, if you look at his little finger (the same hand) on a Bach it would have to be inserted into the finger ring on top of the third valve slide. As far as i can see, there is nothing but his finger visible. On the Holton, the tuning slide is the other side of the valve casing and no finger ring is fitted to the third valve slide.
Just two more pieces of (probable) evidence.
I have been told that the film can be viewed in high definition by adding &fmt=18 to the URL; but itdoesn't work for me unfortunately.
Malcolm
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 18th, 2009, 10:04 am #8

Simply for the sake of completeness, I feel the need to make two more comments:
1. I imagine that the reference to the two frames showing a "finger hook" on the lead pipe are in fact the image of Bix's first finger of his left hand gripping the bell pipe in that unusual way that we now know that he did (as can be seen in other photos).
2. What I believe to be shadow (because the image disappears in other frames), but may on the other hand be the diagonal stay on the Bach, is at the wrong angle. Although later Bach's had a diagonal stay, Bix's s/n 620 has a near horizontal stay (as can be seen in the image that was downloaded here).
I am now off on holiday and, as I promised earlier, will endeavour to upload images for comparison upon my return (but I will need help as I am a technophobe !)

Malcolm
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Dehoohors
Dehoohors

March 28th, 2015, 10:45 am #9

I don't want to burden you with more work. Clearly, you have spent quite a bit of time analyzing the film and comparing the images with actual Bach and Holton cornets. I appreciate, as I am sure other forumites do, all you have done toward helping to solve the question of the identity of the cornet Bix plays in the Fox film.

To facilitate comparisons, would it be possible to provide relevant images for one or two examples of what you view as decisive pieces of evidence? It would be very instructive if you could provide side by side images of the Fox cornet and of a Bach and a Holton in the same positions. This way the features that help distinguishing between a Bach and a Holton by comparison with the Fox cornet could be better appreciated.

Thanks very much.

Albert

I would be happy to upload the necessary images in any posting you wish to make. If you decide to send images, jpgs would be perfect to include in the body of the message.
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