double bass

(redirected from double-bass)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

double bass

double bass, bowed stringed musical instrument, the contrabass of the modern orchestral string section. It originated as a double-bass viol, an instrument described as early as 1566. A true double-bass violin appeared during the 18th cent. but was rejected as unwieldy and of poor tonal quality. The present double bass is tuned in fourths and usually has a flat back and sloping shoulders but has never attained a definitive form. The bow, the last to give up its convex shape, was long held palm upward like the viol bow, but the violin style is now customary. Indispensable in the orchestra, it also has a place in the dance band and jazz.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Double Bass


(contrabass), a bowed stringed instrument. It is the largest (nearly 2 m long) and lowest-pitched instrument in the string family. It has four strings tuned in fourths and sounds an octave lower than it is notated. There are also three- and five-string double basses. The player normally stands. Primarily an orchestral and ensemble instrument, the double bass is sometimes played as a solo instrument (outstanding virtuosos include G. Bottesini, Italy, 19th century; S. Koussevitzky, Russia, 20th century; and F. Gertovich, USSR).

The variety of a musical instrument that plays in the lowest registers is also known as a contrabass—for example, the contrabass trombone, contrabass tuba, and contrabass balalaika.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

double bass

1. a stringed instrument, the largest and lowest member of the violin family. Range: almost three octaves upwards from E in the space between the fourth and fifth leger lines below the bass staff. It is normally bowed in classical music, but it is very common in a jazz or dance band, where it is practically always played pizzicato
2. of or relating to an instrument whose pitch lies below that regarded as the bass; contrabass
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
3 in E flat major, arranged for the double-bass instead of the second viola, than by the Nocturne in B major, except for the division of the violins interpreted according to the orchestral version.
It wasn't auspicious that the 6th symphony begins and ends with the double-basses - ergo a very ragged start and finish.
They range from the relatively short and lyric "Io ti lascio, o cara, addio" through the expected recitative with sectional aria form to the virtuoso aria with double-bass obbligato.
This unison between Kcheich's traditional forms and the double-bass accompaniment acted like a showcase of the marriage between western and eastern styles.
Maya Homburger plays the baroque violin, Barry Guy plays the double-bass, and together they make sounds both archaic and futuristic.
Sir Peter writes that he wanted to "address the double-bass's potential as a melodic instrument capable of sustained legato and cantabile" (composer's note).
Cypriot double-bass player Koullouras studied next to the famous jazz musicians Ron Carter, Charlie Banacos and Ed Barker.
The current tour features material from their latest CD, Witness, and they will be joined by talented young double-bass player and vocalist Miranda Sykes.
These emerge best in the conclusion, when Durmans caustic free jazz saxophone (still only in long notes) leads a heated dialogue with a dampening double-bass accompaniment
Buzz, the double-bass player, has swapped his carrot-shaped instrument for a surfboard and Shooter has changed the tanks on his feet for a tasty pair of 4x4s.