Definitions

contrabass

double bass

[beys]

Double bass, viol-shaped, side and front views.

Lowest-pitched of the modern stringed instruments. It varies in size, up to 80 inches (200 cm) tall. Its shape also varies; its shoulders usually slope more than those of the violin, reflecting its status as a hybrid of the viol and violin families (the name comes from the double-bass viol). It emerged from these families in the late Renaissance, and it has always been less standardized in form than its cousins in the violin family. It normally has four strings; the orchestral instrument often has a lower fifth string (more often, an extension is added to the fourth string), and the jazz instrument has a higher fifth string. Its range is an octave below that of the cello. It is normally bowed in orchestral music and plucked in jazz. In rock bands and some jazz bands, the electric bass is used instead.

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The term contrabass (derived from the Italian contrabbasso) refers to very low musical instruments; generally those pitched one octave below instruments of the bass register. While the term most commonly refers to the double bass (which is the bass instrument in the orchestral string family, tuned lower than the 'cello,), many other instruments in the contrabass register exist. The contrabass is one of the members of the woodwind instrument family.

The term "contrabass" is relative, usually denoting a very low-pitched instrument of its type rather than one playing in a particular range. For example, the contrabass flute's lowest note is approximately an octave higher than that of the contrabass clarinet. Instruments tuned below contrabass instruments, such as the double contrabass flute or subcontrabass saxophone, may be referred to as "double contrabass," "triple contrabass," "subcontrabass," or "octocontrabass" instruments. On the other hand, the "contrabass" classification is often taken to include such instruments as well.

Wind

Brass

Woodwind

Other

String

Bowed

Plucked

Notes

External links

  • www.contrabass.com, the "Contrabass Mania" site dedicated to ridiculously low instruments of all kinds

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