I was looking through my stats on Flickr to see what’s going on with my photos. I was surprised to see some references to Double Bass message boards linking to my Flickr pictures. Hmmm…
A little bit of Googling later, I found two places that linked to my Flickr photo set of the Octobass, a very unusual/exotic stringed instrument made in France during the 19th Century. (In addition to the link above, check this one out. The link to my Flickr stream is at the bottom!) The Octobass is much larger than a double bass. Where a bass comes in around 6 feet tall, the Octobass is more like ten feet tall, maybe more. It requires TWO people to play it: one to use the bow, and another to use the levers and foot pedals to change the pitches. Despite it’s gigantic size, it’s lowest note is only an octave lower than a cello; a 16′ pitch C on a pipe organ. Very few were ever made.
I first read about this instrument when I was in middle school, when I first started playing the Bass. I dearly wanted to see one, but all of them are in Europe, and there was no Internet to find out more about it than my music encyclopedia mentioned in a single paragraph. Finally, in 2004 on my first trip to Paris, I got to see one at the amazing Musee de la Musique. It was awesome! I explained in French to the bemused curator/guard that I’d wanted to see this instrument for ages. “Crazy Americans,” she no doubt thought, but I was in heaven. I took many photos of it, wished I could play it, and finally moved on.
And so now, I am some sort of weird de-facto Internet resource for photos of the elusive Octobass. I love it!