Contrabass Clarinet

The contrabass clarinet descended from a weird, short-lived late 18th-century instrument called the batyphone into another weird instrument that might be likened to the deep sea monster of the orchestra.


Huge and rarely seen, it makes a wondrous low sound unlike any other from an acoustic instrument. Contrabass clarinets come in different shapes, but all have loops and some double loops. The instrument is a favourite of Esa-Pekka Salonen, who exploits its other-worldly timbral qualities in his Violin Concerto.

Fact File

Did you know?

The contrabass clarinet is sometimes referred to as the pedal clarinet, referring to an analogy between its low notes and the pedal notes of the trombone or the organ.

Frequency Range

73 - 698 Hz

Tube Length

275 cm