Cello & contrabass playing in octaves


I was wondering about doubling cello & contrabass in BBCSO for instance. So, if I understand well, the double bass sounds an 8ve lower than written. Does this mean that for doubling cello & bass in BBCSO, I would have to write Cello in C3 & double bass in C3?

Any help is welcome! :-)

Best Answers

  • Hi there- the double bass in BBCSO core (or at least in my copy of core) isn't transposed and sounds at pitch - so if you had a cello on C3 and wanted the bass to double it down the octave then you would program a C2 in the double bass, or, if you are lazy like me, copy over the midi from the cello part and transpose it down an octave (same is true of the piccolo at the other end of the spectrum).

    Incidentally, the doubling in octaves thing is all over the place - I must admit when I saw the Christian videos on voicing strings I was a bit suspicious and thought "can it really be that easy to voice strings", but I have recently been programming the last movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony into my DAW (for the lurns: ) and there is octave doubling all the way to bar 72ish. I do like voicing them in tenths though!

  • Oh, sorry, just to add that - if you were using notation software (i.e. Sibelius or Dorico) then it might do the transposing for you - the answer above is confined to drawing the notes in midi in a DAW


  • Hi @Retroblueman,

    Thx for your clear answer!

    Yep I'm lazy and just transpose in the DAW :-) . Still learning going from piano sketch to orchestra, we'll get there someday!