The double bass is the largest string instrument in the orchestra and with its warm, deep tones it is often thought of as the supporting the rest of the orchestra. It sometimes comes to the fore with a solo or a particularly prominent part, but mostly it is in the background supporting the harmonies, creating rhythms and adding its rich tone to the overall orchestral mix.
Viol and Violin Shaped Instruments
The double bass or contrabass as it is also known is descended from the viol rather than the violin, although both violin and viol shaped instruments exist today.
Tuning and transposition
The bass sounds an octave lower than written, and its strings are tuned in fourths, sounding as follows: G2, D2, A1, E1. The addition of a low C extension can take the lowest string down to C1.
Photograph courtesy of The Contrabass Shoppe Ltd