Bass member of the double reed family, pitched in C, with a range from Bb upwards for about 3 1/2 octaves. Made of wood and with a conical bore. Dates from 1660s.
Came to prominence as solo instrument in 18th century. Vivaldi composed 39 concerti for it. Others to use it as solo instrument include J. C. Bach, Telemann, and Boismortier. In 1774, Mozart wrote his concerto (K. 191). Modern instruments made by Heckel (Ger.), Buffet-Crampon (Fr.), and Fox (Amer.). Often used for comic effect but its capacity for melancholy has not been overlooked by composers.
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