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  1. #1
    Insert cutesy caption du jour here TommyD69's Avatar
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    Cool "Bis" Key Etymology

    I know what a "Bis" key is, I know what a "bis" key does, and I know where it is on the horn. But why is it called a "Bis" key? What the heck does "Bis" mean/Stand for anyway?
    Musical Theory of Relativity: E=Fb

  2. #2

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    Not sure, but these two links lead me to believe that someone in the French section of the forum may be able to help out:

    http://www2.potsdam.edu/mcallitp/timeline

    http://french.about.com/library/motdujour/blmdj-bis.htm

  3. #3
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    Default

    Here's little cut and paste history:

    1887 - Association Des Ouvriers--invent tuning ring, and precursor of articulated G# Evette and Schaeffer--improve on articulated G# so that G# key can be held down while any finger of the right hand is being used, improved forked F#, invented "bis" key, added low Bb.

    All this happened a full two years before Gus Buescher built his first US sax based on Adolphe Sax's patent. So we're talking about the real dark ages here right before anything decent had ever been built to play good music on.
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  4. #4
    Saxplayer67's Avatar
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    Saxophone by Paul Harvey, says bis is French for 'little b'.
    'If they give you ruled paper, write the other way' - Juan Ramon Jimenez
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  5. #5
    Insert cutesy caption du jour here TommyD69's Avatar
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    Cool French Lesson for the day

    OK class.... Once I was pointed in a direction (French), I found what I was looking for (and it makes sense, in a "French" kinda way)...

    According to French.about.com..........


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    bis

    [bees]

    (adv) - (music) repeat, again, encore; (address) ½, a

    A la fin du concert, le groupe a joué deux bis - At the end of the concert, the group played two encores.

    Il habite 43 bis, rue verte. - He lives at 43½ (or 43a) Green Street

    Related: (adj) - grayish-brown; un itinéraire bis - detour, diversion
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    The (music) definition makes sense, as the bis key is a redundant (alternate) key for playing the note Bb...

    The (address) definition also makes sense, because the bis key lowers the note B by 1/2 a step...

    So, there ya go kiddies, class is dismissed.....
    Musical Theory of Relativity: E=Fb

  6. #6

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    bis- latin- twice or repeat- written out -Bflat is BB- Bb

    bis in Italian often used to differentiate a main street from the 'bis' street -a smaller street but of the same name with a bis suffix. (that has been my interpretation on visiting Italy- i stand to be corrected however)

    The latin certainly makes sense though.

  7. #7

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    The saxophone was invented in France and developed rapidly after the Sax patents ran out and before the frst US saxes were made. The use of a French word, bis, makes sense in this context. It means again - musically an encore. Listen to a French auduence shout "bis, bis" at the end of a show.

    From this it is a short step to another key. Why not the same for F#? Possiby because it is fingered with the same finger as the B key itself .... well, normally, but there are some people on SOTW with different techniques!
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  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Old King Log SOTSDO's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    The same term was used to refer to subsequent models of French armored vehicles prior to World War II. The Char B1 was their heaviest tank in general use prior to the war, as well as the first version produced. The second model was known as the Char B1 bis. A third model, of which only a prototype was produced, was identified as the Char B1 ter.

    However, in the case of the little dot on the saxophone, it indicates an additional method of playing a fingering. Of course, you can use 1 and 1 plus 1-2 plus the side key, for a total of three, so go figure...
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  9. #9
    Greenrent
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Nice post...Thank you very much!!......



  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Member piwikiwi's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Quote Originally Posted by TommyD69 View Post
    I know what a "Bis" key is, I know what a "bis" key does, and I know where it is on the horn. But why is it called a "Bis" key? What the heck does "Bis" mean/Stand for anyway?
    Bis= B sharp. Bes=b flat at least in dutch

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Aside from people in Holland and Germany, I don't think that anybody else would call a Bb a Bis and indeed in the Anglo-Saxon world it is called Bb or B flat while in most of the rest of the world (In Belgium too Piwikiwi) is called Si (some people still use Ti) bemol (le) .

    Bis is Latin is equivalent to Twice or Two times , that is why it is a synonym for " Encore" and indeed it would be appropriate to ask fo a Bis if you want an Encore from a musician but also if you want more of the same food . Ter means three times by the way try that!

    Anything that is repeated could get indicated as Bis in Italian and they have also made it into a verb " Bissare" which means to repeat a funny detail is that , since the number 17 is supposedly bringing bad luck in Naples and much of the South, in the Majority of the buildings apartment 17 doesn't exist but they have 16b or 16 bis.

  12. #12
    sandy cameron's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Just a little thing: I believe Adolphe Sax lived in a little town near Brussells, Belgium. There is a statue of him at this place.

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology




    yes the town is Dinant.......so?

  14. #14

    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Wow, that looks just like him. I see he preferred a bronze instrument.

  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Member B Flat's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Quote Originally Posted by Bottle Opener View Post
    Wow, that looks just like him. I see he preferred a bronze instrument.
    He was right into Heavy Metal.

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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    His mouthpiece is upside down!

  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    My theory knowledge is very poor indeed but In this many years in between my post in this thread I have learned this much on the Bis term.

    The names of music notes used in some countries varies quite a bit you can use names for notes such as :

    ais, bis, cis, dis, eis, (when you indicate rising the pitch half a tone ) and if lowering it you can use the names bes, ces, des, fes, ges, as (when you want to indicate lowering the note half a step).

    But of course some of these names are for the same thing

    Cis=Des
    Dis=Es
    Fis=Ges
    Gis=As
    Ais=Bes

    This (I sort of understand ) all assumes relevance in the fixed Do system as opposed to a Variable Do system (this is where my lack of theory shows the most!)

  18. #18
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    Quote Originally Posted by soybean View Post
    His mouthpiece is upside down!
    That is actually how he meant it to be played. Not a lot of people know that.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    I think the point is that it is the second main Bb fingering (after all noone is calling side Bb bis regardless of Sol-Fa etc.) That's my theory and I challenge allcomers to propose a better one.
    "The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions."

  20. #20
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Bis" Key Etymology

    you win

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