The Octobass Towers Over Its Players

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The octobass is an instrument that can play a C note lower than the range of human hearing. It was invented in 1850, and meant to provide a deep rumbling in traditional orchestras. However, it never took off as a mainstream instrument, and only a few specimens exist today. To play the octobass, a musician must operate its system of levers and foot pedals while wielding a large, cumbersome bow.


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Key Facts In This Video

  1. To play an octobass, a musician must stand on a platform and operate a set of levers. 00:37

  2. The octobass is tuned two octaves below a cello, and its lowest C note is at 16 Hz—below the range of human hearing. 01:44

  3. The strings on an octobass are so large that you can observe their vibrations easily. 02:40