Octobass for a Low Rumble in Orchestra

By Anupum Pant

Low sounds coming from a cello give a good feel to the music, but when you have to go lower, that is make extremely low frequency sounds for your music, you use the octobass.

Octobass, invented by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in the year 1850, like a cello, is a stringed instrument which is so large that it has a stand built under the instrument by default. That is to help the player actually reach a proper height to be able to play it. The strings, unlike a normal violin, aren’t pressed with fingers because they are so huge and the notes so far apart. A lever mechanism is used to help the player do that. There are just two playable replicas of octobass in the world.

The octobass can play frequencies of as low as 16 hertz. That is well below what a human ear is able to hear (20 – 20,000 hertz is our range). However there are also some notes that it plays which humans can hear.

A replica of this massive instrument can be seen at display in The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

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