The term subcontrabass clarinet
refers to any clarinet
with range lower than that of the contrabass clarinet
. Two such instruments have been built on a very limited basis. These instruments are named with the prefix octo
attached to the name of the instrument whose range is an octave higher.
The octocontra-alto clarinet
(also known as octo contra alto
, sub contra alto
, or octocontralto
) is the second largest member of the clarinet family
. The instrument is pitched one octave lower than the E contra-alto clarinet
, two octaves lower than the E alto clarinet
, and two octaves and a fifth lower than the standard B soprano clarinet
(making it an EE transposing instrument
). Only three octocontra-alto clarinets were ever built, all by the G. Leblanc Corporation
The octocontrabass clarinet
(also known as octo contrabass clarinet
, octo contra bass clarinet
, or subcontra bass clarinet
) is the largest and lowest member of the clarinet family. It is pitched an octave below the contrabass clarinet
, or three octaves lower than the standard B soprano clarinet.
The Guinness Book of World Records lists the octocontrabass clarinet as having the lowest range of any orchestral instrument, capable of playing B-1 concert pitch (the B below the lowest note of the piano).
Although only one such instrument was ever produced, by Leblanc, at least three pieces of music have been written specifically for it by Norwegian composer Terje Lerstad (Trisonata, Op. 28; De Profundis, Op. 139; and Mirrors in Ebony for clarinet choir, Op. 134), and two more by American composer Adam Gilberti ("Reflections of Honor", for large orchestra, "Four Poems" for orchestra and mixed chorus). There is no known recording of the instrument.
Other low clarinets
An experiment by Gregg Bailey has shown that it is at least in principle possible to create clarinets of pitches below that of the octocontrabass clarinet. Bailey's experiment used a PVC
-body instrument without keywork and a contrabass clarinet mouthpiece and reed to produce audible tones with fundamentals as low as 8 Hz