About the octobass, western extra-low transverse flute … a fascinating instrument of the 80’s.
It was the result of the imagination and the know-how of the French flute maker Jacques Lefèvre then after, of his former assistant Jean-Yves Roosen.
The starting point of the venture was the desire at that time to widen the range of sound possibilities of the transverse flute. The first Octobass created by Jacques Lefèvre was still a transverse flute, the tube being extended on the left of the blowing hole by a large loop and a curve on the far right.
The Octobass found its final form with his successor, Jean-Yves Roosen.
To the request of flutist Pierre-Yves Artaud, the great specialist of the contemporary music, in order to develop the powerfulness of the graves of the instrument, Jean-Yves Roosen explored all possibilities offered by a larger tube. In order to résolve the problem of the weight of the Octobass (around 10 pounds), he only kept the horizontal tube of the blowing hole, the remaining tube staying vertical.
The new Octobass is now measuring one meter half of height, and the length of the tube three meters. The way to hold the instrument gets close to the bass clarinet hence, bringing a definite improvement in the playing, and to the development status of this extraordinary instrument.
The Octobass flute has now gone beyond the experimental phase to find its place in the today’s music. The instrument, still rare, fascinates by its very peculiar qualities of sound. With the Octobass, distance is taken from the pure and precise sound of the flute, as on the contrary, it plays on the blurry effect, the blow, the sensation of the bow sound… It allows to explore all the technical resources of the contemporary playing, very particularly the multi phonics, blast of blow, singing and sound production mixed and rhythmical effects. Its range of notes, close to the cello’s, is covering three octaves and half, starting from the low A, one minor third below the lower cello bass note.
CD Steppes Breath - Quadrature for octobass flute solo (extract) :