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If you’re like me, you’re probably a big flute nerd and may want to read a hyperbass flute guide. No matter why you want to learn about the family of flutes, you should learn about the hyperbass.
It’s not as common as the C flute or even other low flutes. However, it’s a cool instrument to at least learn about and perhaps play if you ever get the chance.
Bottom Line Up Front: The hyperbass flute is the lowest member of the flute family. It’s almost impossible to buy or borrow one, but you can listen to it and learn about it in case you do get your hands on one.
What Is the Hyperbass Flute?
The hyperbass flute is the lowest and largest member of the western concert flute family. It’s very rare, so you won’t find it in your local music store.
You also probably won’t find it in many flute specialty shops. And while quite a few companies make flutes, alto flutes, and bass flutes, only a couple of people have ever made hyperbass flutes.
That’s right, people, not companies. Yamaha, Pearl, and other big brands don’t make flutes that go that low. If you can get ahold of this type of flute, you’ll need to be able to blow air through 26 feet of tubing.
Hyperbass Flute Range
The range of the hyperbass flute is the same on paper as all other western flutes. You can read music from a written middle C (C4) to about three octaves higher (C7 or D7).
However, the hyperbass sounds four octaves lower than written. That means its sounding range is about C0 to C3, so it can go lower than the range of a piano.
Not only that, but it sounds as low as 16 Hz, and human hearing only goes about as low as 20 Hz.
The hyperbass sounds five octaves below a piccolo, four octaves below a standard C flute, and three octaves below a bass flute. The contrabass flute is two octaves above the hyperbass, and the double contrabass flute is one octave above.
Development of the Hyperbass Flute
Robert Fabbriciani is an Italian flute player and composer. After exploring other flutes when writing music, he decided to create a hyperbass flute with the help of Francesco Romani, a craftsman.
This initial model didn’t have any keys, but the holes are massive. That means a player needs to cover the holes with their entire palms, so they can only play a few notes.
Another flute player named Peter Sheridan asked Jelle Hogenhuis, a flute maker, to produce a chromatic hyperbass flute. This occurred in 2010, so the flute is relatively new.
The hyperbass flute doesn’t use metal and instead uses a type of plastic. Because the instrument is so large, there aren’t a ton of advancements since its inception, and there aren’t that many in the world.
Hyperbass Flute Models
If you want to learn more about the different hyperbass flutes, you should consider the two main models. Both are difficult to find for sale, but it’s still cool to learn about these instruments.
Here’s what you should know about the hyperbass flutes that exist.
The model that Fabbriciani commissioned is tough to play since there are no keys. You probably won’t be playing solos like the Mozart Concerto in G major on the instrument.
However, you can experiment with the low notes and play some slow bass lines. You’ll need to have good control of your palms to cover the holes completely, and that may be hard if you have small hands.
Fabbriciani has worn gloves to play the instrument, which may help you get a good seal. With 49 feet of tubing, it’s one of the largest instruments in the world.
Jelle Hogenhuis developed a smaller hyperbass flute, but this one is more playable. It’s about 26 feet or so, and it does have keys to help you play more of the flute’s range.
The holes have similar spacing as holes on smaller flutes, just on a bigger pipe. Because of that, the keys don’t actually close the holes directly but instead trigger the keys to close using rods.
If you get a chance to play this instrument, your hand position will be similar to that of a contrabassoon player. But you will use flute fingerings like you would on your other flutes.
Hyperbass Flute Music
Despite how rare it is, there is a small amount of music for the hyperbass flute. Allesandro Grego wrote the first original work for the hyperbass called Persistenza della memoria.
The piece uses electronics and magnetic tape along with the low flute. Fabbriciani has also written multiple works that use the hyperbass flute along with tape or electronics.
How to Play the Hyperbass Flute
If you manage to get your hands on one, you can use the same basic techniques as you would to play the regular flute. You need to know how to manage your breath to get through a full phrase.
When it comes to the Hogenhuis model, you should also know the standard flute fingerings. That way, you can play more of the notes.
But like other low flutes, you’ll need to stay ahead of the beat. Larger instruments can take a bit longer to respond, so you could get behind if you play as normal when performing with other musicians.
Why Play the Hyperbass Flute
Fabbriciani and Sheridan both had good reasons for wanting to design the hyperbass flute. They wanted to see how low the flute could go, and it can go pretty low, despite the concert flute being one of the highest-pitched instruments.
Most people won’t ever get the chance to play a hyperbass flute. However, if you do get the chance, you should take advantage of it.
Here are a few benefits of playing the lowest flute in existence.
Explore the Low End
Of course, playing the largest member of the flute family gives you the chance to play some low notes. If you like playing other low flutes, such as the alto or bass, you can take that interest a step further.
As you play the hyperbass, you may get used to the air it requires to produce a good sound. When you go back to your other low flutes, you may find getting a sound is much easier.
You can also practice some new music that you might not otherwise get to play.
Expand Your Skills
Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to play just about every other flute out there. If you’ve gotten to play the piccolo down to the double contrabass flute, the hyperbass flute is the logical next step.
You can use the practice time that you get on the hyperbass to help your playing overall. Even if you can only play the flute for a few minutes, you may find what you learn transfers to your other flutes.
Improve Your Breath Control
Being able to push your air through 26 to 49 feet of tubing takes a lot of work. You may not be able to play the lowest notes of the hyperbass flute at first.
If you can get those notes to come out, you can figure out what you need to do for that to happen. Then, when you move to a smaller flute, you may not struggle with breath control at all.
Some low flutes take a lot of air to get a good sound. Practicing even lower flutes may help you learn the breath control that you need to play well.
Make Other Low Flutes Easier
Not only can you learn breath control, but you may find it easier to hold other low flutes. You have to have a good reach to be able to play larger instruments.
Even though the hyperbass uses keys and rods to close the holes, you still need good posture. Posture can also help you get as much air into your lungs as possible.
All of that is easy to apply when you have to switch back to a bass flute or even your piccolo or C flute.
Where to Find a Hyperbass Flute
Unfortunately, you won’t find a hyperbass on display in your local music store. Even specialty shops, such as the Flute Center of New York, don’t carry flutes this low.
After all, these flutes are rare and probably don’t sell that often. That means it’s not the best business decision for most stores to keep any hyperbass flutes in stock.
However, you may be able to find one after checking a few places.
Contact the Makers
The easiest option is to contact a hyperbass flute maker directly. Contacting Fabbriciani will be your best bet, and you can email him to ask if he has any models available.
Hogenhuis has a website listing the various flutes his company has made. Sadly, Jelle passed away in 2021, so you probably won’t be able to order a new hyperbass flute.
You may be able to contact Peter Sheridan, the player who worked with Hogenhuis. He might be able to point you in the right direction if you want to get your hands on a hyperbass.
Search the Used Market
Another option is to look at some used flutes to see if there’s a hyperbass for sale. Don’t hold your breath, though, because it’s not that common for the flute to be available.
It’s also not that common for other low flutes, even bass flutes to be on the used market. But it can still be worth checking places such as Facebook Marketplace or eBay.
If you’re willing to be patient, you can wait for a few months to see if a hyperbass hits the market.
Ask on Forums
A more direct way to look for a used hyperbass flute is to ask other flute players. You can go on forums and Facebook groups for flute players to ask if anyone is selling an instrument.
Someone may reply that they want to sell the hyperbass flute they own. Now, the odds of this happening are slim due to how rare the hyperbass flute is.
However, it’s worth a shot, and you never know what may happen.
Alternatives to the Hyperbass Flute
If you want to explore the world of low flutes, the hyperbass may not be the best starting place. Instead, look at more affordable and accessible instruments.
Then, you can learn music and explore a lower range than you could on a C flute.
My personal favorite of the low flutes is the alto flute. It’s one of a couple of flutes that are in the key of G instead of C, so it sounds a fourth lower than written.
The alto flute can have a straight headjoint or one with a J curve. I like playing with a straight headjoint since the balance is similar to that of a C flute.
Alto flutes are popular in flute choirs, but they also show up in some larger orchestral pieces.
The bass flute sounds one octave lower than the standard C flute. It’s so long that it requires a J curve for the player to hold, but some models are vertical so that they’re more ergonomic.
I played a bass flute for a while in college, and it was fun to play in flute choir. If I were to buy a bass of my own, I’d probably get a vertical model because the standard design put a lot of pressure on my right thumb.
Still, it’s fun to get to experiment with the low range and play some bass lines in an ensemble.
The contrabass flute sounds an octave lower than the bass flute and two octaves lower than the C flute. It’s not as common as the smaller low flutes, but it’s gaining popularity.
This flute is shaped like the number 4, and you have to stand up to play it. While I’ve never played it myself, I’ve been in a couple of flute choirs with the instrument and it sounds amazing.
Double Contrabass Flute
The double contrabass flute is yet another low flute, and it’s not super common. Only a couple of makers offer a double contrabass, which sounds an octave lower than the contrabass.
Like the hyperbass flute, this flute is massive. It’s not a standard member of ensembles, but it can be a bit easier to find than the hyperbass flute.
Best Low Flutes to Buy
Since the odds of finding a hyperbass flute for sale are slim, you should look at other low flutes. Some of these flutes are easier to find than others, and of course, some are more expensive.
However, they’re a more accessible way for you to explore the world of low flutes. To choose the models, I looked for where you can buy them and if they’re from a reputable brand.
Here are a few specific models you should try.
Kotato Double Contrabass Flute
The Kotato Double Contrabass Flute features a brass body and chrome plating. There’s a solid silver lip plate, and it looks and sounds fantastic.
If you’re looking for really low flutes, this is probably the easiest one to find and purchase. However, it’s only available as a special order, so you may need to wait to receive it.
- Available to order
- Looks and sounds good
- Nice materials
- Very expensive
- Not in stock
The Pearl PFC-905 is an excellent, relatively affordable contrabass flute. It features silver plating throughout, and you can play down to a low B with this instrument.
You’ll get a case and a support stand for when you need to take a quick practice break. I haven’t played it, but one of my fellow flute choir members played it in a concert in 2021, and they sounded great on it.
- Easy to play
- Comes with accessories
- Relatively affordable
- Has a lot of parts to assemble
- Can be hard to tune
If you want a regular bass flute, the Pearl PFB-305 is a good option. One of my flute choir colleagues plays it, and she sounds great on the instrument.
It features silver plating, and you can get it with a low C or low B, depending on your needs. This bass flute isn’t too expensive, so it’s a good choice for casual players.
- Easy to play
- Great sound
- Not too expensive
- A bit heavy
FAQs about the Hyperbass Flute Guide
Answer: The most famous hyperbass flute player is probably Peter Sheridan. He’s a low flute specialist and has played other flutes, but he’s used his hyperbass in multiple concerts.
Answer: I couldn’t find any prices for hyperbass flutes, but I’d guess they’re pretty expensive. The flute requires a lot of materials, and it most likely takes a ton of time to make.
Between materials and labor, you can expect to spend a lot more on a hyperbass flute than other flutes.
Answer: I’d recommend you slowly move down from a C flute to a hyperbass flute. At the very least, try to play the bass flute to get used to the larger tube diameter.
If possible, play all of the low flutes, including alto, contrabass, and double contrabass. Then, you’ll have an easier time blowing air into the hyperbass flute to get a sound.
Answer: Beginner flute players should focus on the C flute before learning the hyperbass flute. For one, C flutes are much more affordable and are often available for rent.
Also, you’ll be able to learn the fundamentals, such as breathing and fingerings. When you do want to try the hyperbass, you may be more successful if you’re already good at the regular flute.
Final Note on the Hyperbass Flute Guide
If you want to learn about the entire flute family, you should consult a hyperbass flute guide. This rare flute is the lowest one of the family, and it can be fun to listen to or play.
If you can’t get your hands on one, look at other low flutes, such as the bass or contrabass. Then, you can still play some low notes, and you can find an instrument more easily.
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