Octocontrabass Clarinet

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The octocontrabass clarinet is a rare instrument in the clarinet and woodwind family of musical instruments. This single reed instrument has a curved bell at the bottom and can reach a far lower range than a traditional Bb clarinet. It is a cumbersome instrument that has just a few models worldwide.
History of the Octocontrabass Clarinet
The octocontrabass clarinet has a history dating back to the 18th century. According to woodwind instrument legend, the LeBlanc family of clarinet makers worked with Belgian acoustician Charles Houvenaghel to produce the largest and deepest clarinet that could possibly be engineered. Houvenaghel was himself a bass clarinet player and has been cited by inventor greats like Adolphe Sax as the greatest acoustician of his time. The octocontrabass clarinet would stretch all the way down to the bottom of a pipe organ’s pitch register - an entire octave lower than a contrabass clarinet. Houvenaghel was photographed with an early prototype of his creation at this time and the instrument was taken to science world fairs to be exhibited among the latest scientific creations. Such was the novelty of such a large and unusual instrument that the idea to mass produce the octocontrabass clarinet was not adopted at this time and there are no models available for commercial sale anywhere today. This means that if it exists today at all, then the octocontrabass clarinet is one of the rarest instruments on the planet.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£1,400 - £8,000

Hear the Octocontrabass Clarinet

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How to Play

A very large clarinet that produces extremely low tones, typically used in contemporary classical music. It's played like a regular clarinet, but requires a lot more air and breath support due to its size.

In Popular Music

The octocontrabass clarinet is an exceedingly rare instrument and as such has not been featured on any popular recordings.

Famous Players

Giacinto Scelsi, Simon Steen-Andersen

Close Relations

Contrabass Clarinet, Subcontrabass Clarinet
Video Credit: Jared De Leon
Understanding the Octocontrabass Clarinet
Very Large


United States


21st century






Instruments of Music

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