Category Archives: Odd instruments

Newly minted octobass premiers at Norway music fest

octobass3There are only seven octobasses in the world.

To even play the giant instrument, levers are installed on the side, which you use to help take care of the fretting your fingers would normally do. Standing on a stepstool is also required to play it. The sound an octobass can make is so low that it’s below the register of human hearing.

Andy Battaglia from Red Bull Music Academy Daily ran a story about the octobass, recently which made its appearance at the Only Connect Festival of Sound music festival in Norway.

The story explains that the first one was made in 1850. Considering that it’s now 2015 and only seven have been made, demand doesn’t seem too high.

octobass2This seventh one (above) is tremendous: It’s more than 12.5 feet tall. According to the story, the guts from about 12 sheep were used to make the strings. To further give you an idea of its size, “the tuning pegs are roughly the size of small salad plates.” This one is supported partially by the stool people use to play it.

The photo above also serves to successfully shrink the tall man standing next to it — at least he used to be tall.

During the festival, the octobass was used during an ensemble performance, which included a piccoletto violin, which creates extremely high sounds.

To hear its sound, check out this 2010 video from the Arizona Republic of a man playing an octobass at a museum. The vibrations caused by the bow visibly make the strings vibrate so deeply it looks like a slithering snake.

Visit Red Bull Music Academy on Twitter for more.

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