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The triple contrabass viol
is a modern variant of the French octobass
The octobass is an extremely large bowed string instrument constructed about 1850 in Paris by the French luthier Jean Baptiste Vuillaume...
, which lost favor with most classical composers since its creation in 1850. It is an acoustic string instrument belonging to the family of the violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....
, viola, and cello. It is more closely related, however, to the double-bass family, known as the viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...
Recordings and performances of sub-contrabass string instruments are rare; over 10 feet tall, the triple contrabass viol must be played with the performer on an elevated platform. It was originally a three-stringed baroque instrument tuned C-G-C with the lower C coming in at 16.35 Hz. This is equivalent to the C two-octaves below the cello's lowest C.
It is known that a four-string variant has been played recently by bassist Brian Smith for a Roscoe Mitchell
Roscoe Mitchell is an African American composer, jazz instrumentalist and educator, mostly known for being "a technically superb—if idiosyncratic—saxophonist." He has been called "one of the key figures" in avant-garde jazz who has been "at the forefront of modern music" for the past...
recording. It had two large circular holes in the body to facilitate recording.
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