Contrabass oboe

The contrabass oboe is a double reed woodwind instrument in the key of C or F, sounding two octaves or an octave and a fourth (respectively) lower than the standard oboe.

Recent research, in particular that by oboe historian Bruce Haynes, suggests that such instruments may have been developed in France as part of an original attempt to maintain the complete family of double reed instruments when the oboe was created from the shawm. There was an instrument referred to by H. de Garsault in 1761 as the basse de cromorne or basse de hautbois (Finkelman 2001) which was used by Lully, Charpentier, and other French Baroque composers. This apparently was an oboe-type instrument in the bassoon range. It had, nonetheless, a distinct tonal quality of its own. Richard Strauss states, in his edition of Hector Berlioz's Treatise on Instrumentation, that its tone "...had not the slightest similarity with the low tones of the bassoon" (Berlioz and Strauss 1948, ).

Despite this distinction, the contrabass oboe never became popular or widely used, and few remain today.

See also


  • Berlioz, Hector, and Richard Strauss. 1948. Treatise on Instrumentation, translated by Theodore Front. New York: Edwin F. Kalmus.
  • Finkelman, Michael. 2001. "Bass Oboes and Larger Forms". § III: 5 of Janet K. Page, Geoffrey Burgess, Bruce Haynes, and Michael Finkelman, "Oboe (Fr. hautbois; Ger. Oboe; It. oboe)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
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