Saturday, September 17, 2011

Octocontralto Clarinet

Cyrille Mercadier's videos of the octocontralto clarinet have been flying around the internet this past week, and for good reason -- this particular instrument is very rare and many people have never heard it.  The octocontralto (or sub-contralto) clarinet is pitched in E-flat and plays one octave below the more common contralto clarinet in E-flat.  We recommend listening with good speakers to get the full bass effect - laptop speakers may only sound the upper harmonics of the pitches.

Mercadier claims it is the only one of its kind, made at the Leblanc factory in 1971, although according to Wikipedia they made three contralto clarinets and one octocontrabass clarinet.  This coincides with the Octocontrabass page at Grant D. Green's fascinating site, a collection of information on the lowest of the low wind instruments.
Mr. Leblanc himself playing the octocontralto clarinet (photo from and courtesy of G. Leblanc)

And for a truly odd musical coupling, Mercatier and Benjamin Masciotta perform Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" on the octracontralto and the A-flat piccolo clarinet!


DTclarinet said...

You need a big room to let those long vibrations happen. Is there such a thing as taking "low" to an absurd low??

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