Bix's Newsreel Cornet, part II

by Frank van Nus

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:

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.


Again, the link to the aligned photographs:

And Bix's Bach Stradivarius #620:

[linked image]

Posted on Apr 14, 2009, 2:25 PM

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