AskDefine | Define contrabass

Dictionary Definition

contrabass adj : pitched an octave below normal bass instrumental or vocal range; "contrabass or double-bass clarinet" [syn: double-bass] n : largest and lowest member of the violin family [syn: bass fiddle, bass viol, bull fiddle, double bass, string bass]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈkɑn.tɹə.ˌbɛɪs/


from Italian contra, against + basso, low


  1. part or section one octave lower than bass.
  2. person or instrument performing the contrabass part.

Extensive Definition

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.









External links

  •, the "Contrabass Mania" site dedicated to ridiculously low instruments of all kinds
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