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CONTRABASSI

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 441 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONTRABASSI. ,-.1 _+ —etc. These opening bars are played soli by 'cellos and double basses, a daring innovation of Beethoven's which caused quite a consternation at first in musical circles. The remote origin of the double bass is the same as that of the violin .3 It was evolved from the bass viol; whether the trans-formation took place simultaneously with that of the violin from the treble viol or preceded it, has not been definitely proved, but both Gasparo da Salo and Maggini constructed double basses, which were in great request in the churches. De Salo made one with three strings for St Mark's, Venice, which is still preserved there .4 It was Dragonetti's favourite concert instrument, presented to him by the monks of St Mark, and, according to the desire expressed in his will, the instrument was restored after his death to St Mark's, where it is at present preserved. Dragonetti used a straight bow similar to the violoncello bow, held overhand with the hair slanting towards the neck of the instrument; it 2 The Double Bass (Novello, Music Primers, No. 32), p. 6. ' See Kathleen Schlesinger, The Instruments of the Orchestra, Part II. " The Precursors of the Violin Family " (1908-1909). See Laurent Grillet, Les Ancetres du violon et du violoncelle (Paris, 1901), tome ii. p. 159; IWillebald Leo von Lustgendorff, Die Geigen and Lautenmacher vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart (Frankfurt a. M., 1904), p. 50; A. C. White, The Double Bass, p. 8. was introduced into England from Paris, and is a favourite with orchestral players. Praetorius gives an illustration of a sub-bass viol da gamba or gross contra-bass geige1 "recently constructed," which displaced the other large contra-bass viols; of which he also gives an illustration.2 Giovanni Bottesini (1822–1889) was the greatest virtuoso on the double bass that the world has ever known. It was not only the perfection of his technique and tone which won him artistic fame, but also the delicacy of his style and his exquisite taste in phrasing. (K. S.)
End of Article: CONTRABASSI
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