The contrabass is a large stringed instrument that is the lowest sounding of all string instruments. It is also known as the double bass, and has four strings that are tuned in fourths – E-A-D-G. The contrabass is a part of the standard string section of an orchestra and is used to provide a low, steady pulse or bass line to the rest of the music. The contrabass typically plays the same musical line as the cello but an octave lower, often adding a fullness and weight to the sound.
The contrabass is both bowed and plucked with the right hand typically used for bowing and the left for plucking. Plucking the strings produces a different sound than bowing and can be used to create percussive rhythms, unlike bowing which mainly creates melodic phrases. It usually takes a good amount of practice to become skilled in playing the contrabass, and many players must use a special technique for fine positioning and control of their notes.
The contrabass is an incredibly powerful instrument and its low range can have a profound effect on the listener. In classical pieces, the contrabass is used to convey solemnity and grandeur. However, it is also used in jazz, folk, and pop music, giving the music a unique texture and dimension. This instrument is essential to many different genres and can be heard in a wide variety of musical forms.