The Central Coast Philharmonia
Octocontralto & Octocontrabass Clarinets
Leblanc company actually made two lower-than-contrabass clarinets, the Octocontralto Clarinet, and the Ocotcontrabass Clarinet. The Eb Octocontralto clarinet was pitched a full octave below the contralto clarinet (descending down to the G at the below the lowest A on the piano), and this would also give it one note below the Subcontrabass Tubax. It is possible it could have been extended down to low C (to concert 32' Eb). There were only a few of these produced, but it is not clear how many or where they are today. Likewise, there are no recordings of them circulating, nor are there plans by the Leblanc company to make any more of them. The octocontrabass clarinet in Bb did contain standard range down to low written C, which would give it near a full octave below the piano (range to concert 64' Bb!). As far as anyone can tell, there was only one of these Bb Octocontrabass Clarinets ever made, and it is currently in a museum held by Leblanc. These are the lowest-pitched woodwind instruments ever produced. There are a few works scored for extra-large clarinets, despite their rarity however, and composer Adam Gilberti has scored for the Octocontrabass Clarinet in Reflections of Honor and in the Four Poems. It is the composer's hope that, like the contrabass saxophone, these wonderful and earthshaking instruments can one day be made available again and be featured in new pieces. Here is a pic of Mr. Leblanc himself playing one of the octocontralto clarinets, and an entire clarinet family portrait showing both the octocontralto and the octocontrabass clarinets as well as the extremely rare Ab Sopranino Clarinet. For more info on octocontrabass clarinets and their music, visit www.contrabass.com under the section in the "Contrabass Compendium" for Octocontrabass Clarinets.