contrabassoon, large, deep-toned instrument of the oboe family, also called double bassoon. Its tube, over 16 ft (5 m) long, is doubled upon itself four times. It was first made by Hans Schreiber of Berlin in 1620. Handel, Haydn, and Beethoven used it for special effects, but it was characterized by faulty intonation until a German, Wilhelm Heckel, in the late 19th cent. made the type generally used today.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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