Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See double bass.
  • adj. Pitched an octave below the normal bass range.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. part or section one octave lower than bass.
  • n. double bass, string bass
  • n. person or instrument performing the contrabass part.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The lowest stringed instrument of the violin family; the double bass; -- also applied to any instrument of the same deep range as the stringed double bass.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, sounding an octave lower than another instrument of the same class, or furnishing the lowest tones in a family of instruments: as, a contrabass trombone, saxhorn, etc.
  • n. The largest instrument of the viol class; the double-bass (which see). Also contrabasso.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. pitched an octave below normal bass instrumental or vocal range
  • n. largest and lowest member of the violin family

Etymologies

Obsolete Italian contrabasso : Italian contra-, against (from Latin contrā-; see contra-) + Italian basso, bass (from Medieval Latin bassus, low).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian contrabbasso, from contra ("against") + basso ("low"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Jun, writes from Holland (I think), saying: Recently, I've built my own electronic upright bass (aka contrabass).

    Reader builds his own electronic double bass. From planks.

  • A Korean War veteran who emerged from the 1960s Chicago scene boosted by the activist collective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Mr. Braxton made important albums focused on saxophone improvisation and sonic experiments with every reed instrument available, from sopranino to the contrabass saxophone.

    A Jazztronaut, Exploring the Spaces in Music

  • The low components of each group (bassoon, bass/contrabass clarinet, tuba, double bass, trombone) are almost always present; the ombrous colors and more diffuse orchestration reduce extremes of exuberance or violence.

    Magna Carter (3): The stuff that dreams are made of

  • There is a funny moment when Sam is cooking a rabbit which Gollum doesn't like, and the mood is musically spun with the contrabass clarinet.

    Fern Siegel: Stage Door: The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers

  • The score, burbling and grunting murkily with various contrabass woodwind and brass, and spangling with the metallic additions of electric violin, guitar and keyboard, oscillates between styles and harmonies, from Shostakovich at his more benign towards the complex patter of Sondheim.

    Bliss; BBC Prom 61: Hänsel and Gretel

  • (Soundbite of music) RIVERA: During the day, this mega-facility is flooded with thousands of young people eager to become better musicians, like 15 - year-old Diana Tardes, who plays the contrabass, an instrument almost twice as big as she is.

    Using Music To Mentor Venezuela's Poorest Youth

  • Mike SvobodaAt first this seemed like somewhat of a hollow proposition, but as the piece went on it grew progressively more hypnotic and seductive as it developed extended solo and duet combinations between Svoboda and Vicki Ray on the prepared piano, Aashish Khan on the sarode, Rachel Rudich on the shakuhachi, Vinny Golia on the contrabass flute and Swapan Chaudhuri on the tabla.

    Archive 2007-11-01

  • Designing and building a new and better contrabass saxophone?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Are Lawyers A Productive Part of Society?

  • Music: Cor Fuhler - analog synthesizer, Wilbert de Joode – contrabass, Colin McLean - electronics

    Archive 2006-01-01

  • The ranges of their sounds spans from the lowest pitch of a contrabass to the highest pitch of a piccolo.

    A turn to negative town

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