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Woodwind instrumentClarinet_header_cell_0_0_0
ClassificationClarinet_header_cell_0_1_0 Clarinet_cell_0_1_1
Hornbostel–Sachs classificationClarinet_header_cell_0_2_0 422.211.2–71

(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)Clarinet_cell_0_2_1

Playing rangeClarinet_header_cell_0_3_0
Related instrumentsClarinet_header_cell_0_4_0

The clarinet is a family of woodwind instruments. Clarinet_sentence_0

It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. Clarinet_sentence_1

A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist (sometimes spelled clarinettist). Clarinet_sentence_2

While the similarity in sound between the earliest clarinets and the trumpet may hold a clue to its name, other factors may have been involved. Clarinet_sentence_3

During the Late Baroque era, composers such as Bach and Handel were making new demands on the skills of their trumpeters, who were often required to play difficult melodic passages in the high, or as it came to be called, clarion register. Clarinet_sentence_4

Since the trumpets of this time had no valves or pistons, melodic passages would often require the use of the highest part of the trumpet's range, where the harmonics were close enough together to produce scales of adjacent notes as opposed to the gapped scales or arpeggios of the lower register. Clarinet_sentence_5

The trumpet parts that required this specialty were known by the term clarino and this in turn came to apply to the musicians themselves. Clarinet_sentence_6

It is probable that the term clarinet may stem from the diminutive version of the 'clarion' or 'clarino' and it has been suggested that clarino players may have helped themselves out by playing particularly difficult passages on these newly developed "mock trumpets". Clarinet_sentence_7

Johann Christoph Denner is generally believed to have invented the clarinet in Germany around the year 1700 by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau, usually in the key of C. Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the tone and playability. Clarinet_sentence_8

In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_9

However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. Clarinet_sentence_10

An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two. Clarinet_sentence_11

Since the middle of the 19th century, the bass clarinet (nowadays invariably in B♭ but with extra keys to extend the register down to low written C3) has become an essential addition to the orchestra. Clarinet_sentence_12

The clarinet family ranges from the (extremely rare) BBB♭ octo-contrabass to the A♭ piccolo clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_13

The clarinet has proved to be an exceptionally flexible instrument, used in the classical repertoire as in concert bands, military bands, marching bands, klezmer, jazz, and other styles. Clarinet_sentence_14

Etymology Clarinet_section_0

The word clarinet may have entered the English language via the French clarinette (the feminine diminutive of Old French clarin or clarion), or from Provençal , "oboe". Clarinet_sentence_15

It would seem, however, that its real roots are to be found among some of the various names for trumpets used around the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Clarinet_sentence_16

Clarion, clarin, and the Italian clarino are all derived from the medieval term claro, which referred to an early form of trumpet. Clarinet_sentence_17

This is probably the origin of the Italian clarinetto, itself a diminutive of clarino, and consequently of the European equivalents such as clarinette in French or the German Klarinette. Clarinet_sentence_18

According to Johann Gottfried Walther, writing in 1732, the reason for the name is that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet". Clarinet_sentence_19

The English form clarinet is found as early as 1733, and the now-archaic clarionet appears from 1784 until the early years of the 20th century. Clarinet_sentence_20

Characteristics Clarinet_section_1

Sound Clarinet_section_2

The cylindrical bore is primarily responsible for the clarinet's distinctive timbre, which varies between its three main registers, known as the chalumeau, clarion, and altissimo. Clarinet_sentence_21

The tone quality can vary greatly with the clarinetist, music, instrument, mouthpiece, and reed. Clarinet_sentence_22

The differences in instruments and geographical isolation of clarinetists led to the development from the last part of the 18th century onwards of several different schools of playing. Clarinet_sentence_23

The most prominent were the German/Viennese traditions and French school. Clarinet_sentence_24

The latter was centered on the clarinetists of the Conservatoire de Paris. Clarinet_sentence_25

The proliferation of recorded music has made examples of different styles of playing available. Clarinet_sentence_26

The modern clarinetist has a diverse palette of "acceptable" tone qualities to choose from. Clarinet_sentence_27

The A and B♭ clarinets have nearly the same bore and use the same mouthpiece. Clarinet_sentence_28

Orchestral clarinetists using the A and B♭ instruments in a concert could use the same mouthpiece (and often the same barrel) (see 'usage' below). Clarinet_sentence_29

The A and B♭ have nearly identical tonal quality, although the A typically has a slightly warmer sound. Clarinet_sentence_30

The tone of the E♭ clarinet is brighter and can be heard even through loud orchestral or concert band textures. Clarinet_sentence_31

The bass clarinet has a characteristically deep, mellow sound, while the alto clarinet is similar in tone to the bass (though not as dark). Clarinet_sentence_32

Range Clarinet_section_3

Main articles: clarinet family, E-flat clarinet, soprano clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, basset clarinet, basset-horn, contra-alto clarinet, and contrabass clarinet Clarinet_sentence_33

Clarinets have the largest pitch range of common woodwinds. Clarinet_sentence_34

The intricate key organization that makes this possible can make the playability of some passages awkward. Clarinet_sentence_35

The bottom of the clarinet's written range is defined by the keywork on each instrument, standard keywork schemes allowing a low E on the common B♭ clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_36

The lowest concert pitch depends on the transposition of the instrument in question. Clarinet_sentence_37

The nominal highest note of the B♭ clarinet is a semitone higher than the highest note of the oboe but this depends on the setup and skill of the player. Clarinet_sentence_38

Since the clarinet has a wider range of notes, the lowest note of the B♭ clarinet is significantly deeper (a minor or major sixth) than the lowest note of the oboe. Clarinet_sentence_39

Nearly all soprano and piccolo clarinets have keywork enabling them to play the E below middle C as their lowest written note (in scientific pitch notation that sounds D3 on a soprano clarinet or C4, i.e. concert middle C, on a piccolo clarinet), though some B♭ clarinets go down to E♭3 to enable them to match the range of the A clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_40

On the B♭ soprano clarinet, the concert pitch of the lowest note is D3, a whole tone lower than the written pitch. Clarinet_sentence_41

Most alto and bass clarinets have an extra key to allow a (written) E♭3. Clarinet_sentence_42

Modern professional-quality bass clarinets generally have additional keywork to written C3. Clarinet_sentence_43

Among the less commonly encountered members of the clarinet family, contra-alto and contrabass clarinets may have keywork to written E♭3, D3, or C3; the basset clarinet and basset horn generally go to low C3. Clarinet_sentence_44

Defining the top end of a clarinet's range is difficult, since many advanced players can produce notes well above the highest notes commonly found in method books. Clarinet_sentence_45

G6 is usually the highest note clarinetists encounter in classical repertoire. Clarinet_sentence_46

The C above that (C7 i.e. resting on the fifth ledger line above the treble staff) is attainable by advanced players and is shown on many fingering charts, and fingerings as high as A7 exist. Clarinet_sentence_47

The range of a clarinet can be divided into three distinct registers: Clarinet_sentence_48


  • The lowest register, from low written E to the written B♭ above middle C (B♭4), is known as the chalumeau register (named after the instrument that was the clarinet's immediate predecessor).Clarinet_item_0_0
  • The middle register is known as the clarion register (sometimes in the U.S. as the clarino register from the Italian) and spans just over an octave (from written B above middle C (B4) to the C two octaves above middle C (C6)); it is the dominant range for most members of the clarinet family.Clarinet_item_0_1
  • The top or altissimo register consists of the notes above the written C two octaves above middle C (C6).Clarinet_item_0_2

All three registers have characteristically different sounds. Clarinet_sentence_49

The chalumeau register is rich and dark. Clarinet_sentence_50

The clarion register is brighter and sweet, like a trumpet (clarion) heard from afar. Clarinet_sentence_51

The altissimo register can be piercing and sometimes shrill. Clarinet_sentence_52

Acoustics Clarinet_section_4

Sound is a wave that propagates through the air as a result of a local variation in air pressure. Clarinet_sentence_53

The production of sound by a clarinet follows these steps: Clarinet_sentence_54


  1. The mouthpiece and reed are surrounded by the player's lips, which put light, even pressure on the reed and form an airtight seal. Air is blown past the reed and down the instrument. In the same way a flag flaps in the breeze, the air rushing past the reed causes it to vibrate. As air pressure from the mouth increases, the amount the reed vibrates increases until the reed hits the mouthpiece. At this point, the reed stays pressed against the mouthpiece until either the springiness of the reed forces it to open or a returning pressure wave 'bumps' into the reed and opens it. Each time the reed opens, a puff of air goes through the gap, after which the reed swings shut again. When played loudly, the reed can spend up to 50% of the time shut. The 'puff of air' or compression wave (around 3% greater pressure than the surrounding air) travels down the cylindrical tube and escapes at the point where the tube opens out. This is either at the closest open hole or at the end of the tube (see diagram: image 1).Clarinet_item_1_3
  2. More than a 'neutral' amount of air escapes from the instrument, which creates a slight vacuum or rarefaction in the clarinet tube. This rarefaction wave travels back up the tube (image 2).Clarinet_item_1_4
  3. The rarefaction is reflected off the sloping end wall of the clarinet mouthpiece. The opening between the reed and the mouthpiece makes very little difference to the reflection of the rarefaction wave. This is because the opening is very small compared to the size of the tube, so almost the entire wave is reflected back down the tube even if the reed is completely open at the time the wave hits (image 3).Clarinet_item_1_5
  4. When the rarefaction wave reaches the other (open) end of the tube, air rushes in to fill the slight vacuum. A little more than a 'neutral' amount of air enters the tube and causes a compression wave to travel back up the tube (image 4). Once the compression wave reaches the mouthpiece end of the 'tube', it is reflected again back down the pipe. However at this point, either because the compression wave 'bumped' the reed or because of the natural vibration cycle of the reed, the gap opens and another 'puff' of air is sent down the pipe.Clarinet_item_1_6
  5. The original compression wave, now greatly reinforced by the second 'puff' of air, sets off on another two trips down the pipe (travelling 4 pipe lengths in total) before the cycle is repeated again.Clarinet_item_1_7

The cycle repeats at a frequency relative to how long it takes a wave to travel to the first open hole and back twice (i.e. four times the length of the pipe). Clarinet_sentence_55

For example: when all the holes bar the very top one are open (i.e. the trill 'B' key is pressed), the note A4 (440 Hz) is produced. Clarinet_sentence_56

This represents a repeat of the cycle 440 times per second. Clarinet_sentence_57

In addition to this primary compression wave, other waves, known as harmonics, are created. Clarinet_sentence_58

Harmonics are caused by factors including the imperfect wobbling and shaking of the reed, the reed sealing the mouthpiece opening for part of the wave cycle (which creates a flattened section of the sound wave), and imperfections (bumps and holes) in the bore. Clarinet_sentence_59

A wide variety of compression waves are created, but only some (primarily the odd harmonics) are reinforced. Clarinet_sentence_60

These extra waves are what gives the clarinet its characteristic tone. Clarinet_sentence_61

The bore is cylindrical for most of the tube with an inner bore diameter between 14 and 15.5 millimetres (0.55 and 0.61 in), but there is a subtle hourglass shape, with the thinnest part below the junction between the upper and lower joint. Clarinet_sentence_62

The reduction is 1 to 3 millimetres (0.039 to 0.118 in) depending on the maker. Clarinet_sentence_63

This hourglass shape, although invisible to the naked eye, helps to correct the pitch/scale discrepancy between the chalumeau and clarion registers (perfect twelfth). Clarinet_sentence_64

The diameter of the bore affects characteristics such as available harmonics, timbre, and pitch stability (how far the player can bend a note in the manner required in jazz and other music). Clarinet_sentence_65

The bell at the bottom of the clarinet flares out to improve the tone and tuning of the lowest notes. Clarinet_sentence_66

Most modern clarinets have "undercut" tone holes that improve intonation and sound. Clarinet_sentence_67

Undercutting means chamfering the bottom edge of tone holes inside the bore. Clarinet_sentence_68

Acoustically, this makes the tone hole function as if it were larger, but its main function is to allow the air column to follow the curve up through the tone hole (surface tension) instead of "blowing past" it under the increasingly directional frequencies of the upper registers. Clarinet_sentence_69

The fixed reed and fairly uniform diameter of the clarinet give the instrument an acoustical behavior approximating that of a cylindrical stopped pipe. Clarinet_sentence_70

Recorders use a tapered internal bore to overblow at the octave when the thumb/register hole is pinched open, while the clarinet, with its cylindrical bore, overblows at the twelfth. Clarinet_sentence_71

Adjusting the angle of the bore taper controls the frequencies of the overblown notes (harmonics). Clarinet_sentence_72

Changing the mouthpiece's tip opening and the length of the reed changes aspects of the harmonic timbre or voice of the clarinet because this changes the speed of reed vibrations. Clarinet_sentence_73

Generally, the goal of the clarinetist when producing a sound is to make as much of the reed vibrate as possible, making the sound fuller, warmer, and potentially louder. Clarinet_sentence_74

The lip position and pressure, shaping of the vocal tract, choice of reed and mouthpiece, amount of air pressure created, and evenness of the airflow account for most of the clarinetist's ability to control the tone of a clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_75

A highly skilled clarinetist will provide the ideal lip and air pressure for each frequency (note) being produced. Clarinet_sentence_76

They will have an embouchure which places an even pressure across the reed by carefully controlling their lip muscles. Clarinet_sentence_77

The airflow will also be carefully controlled by using the strong stomach muscles (as opposed to the weaker and erratic chest muscles) and they will use the diaphragm to oppose the stomach muscles to achieve a tone softer than a forte rather than weakening the stomach muscle tension to lower air pressure. Clarinet_sentence_78

Their vocal tract will be shaped to resonate at frequencies associated with the tone being produced. Clarinet_sentence_79

Covering or uncovering the tone holes varies the length of the pipe, changing the resonant frequencies of the enclosed air column and hence the pitch. Clarinet_sentence_80

A clarinetist moves between the chalumeau and clarion registers through use of the register key; clarinetists call the change from chalumeau register to clarion register "the break". Clarinet_sentence_81

The open register key stops the fundamental frequency from being reinforced, and the reed is forced to vibrate at three times the speed it was originally. Clarinet_sentence_82

This produces a note a twelfth above the original note. Clarinet_sentence_83

Most instruments overblow at two times the speed of the fundamental frequency (the octave), but as the clarinet acts as a closed pipe system, the reed cannot vibrate at twice its original speed because it would be creating a 'puff' of air at the time the previous 'puff' is returning as a rarefaction. Clarinet_sentence_84

This means it cannot be reinforced and so would die away. Clarinet_sentence_85

The chalumeau register plays fundamentals, whereas the clarion register, aided by the register key, plays third harmonics (a perfect twelfth higher than the fundamentals). Clarinet_sentence_86

The first several notes of the altissimo range, aided by the register key and venting with the first left-hand hole, play fifth harmonics (a major seventeenth, a perfect twelfth plus a major sixth, above the fundamentals). Clarinet_sentence_87

The clarinet is therefore said to overblow at the twelfth and, when moving to the altissimo register, seventeenth. Clarinet_sentence_88

By contrast, nearly all other woodwind instruments overblow at the octave or (like the ocarina and tonette) do not overblow at all. Clarinet_sentence_89

A clarinet must have holes and keys for nineteen notes, a chromatic octave and a half from bottom E to B♭, in its lowest register to play the chromatic scale. Clarinet_sentence_90

This overblowing behavior explains the clarinet's great range and complex fingering system. Clarinet_sentence_91

The fifth and seventh harmonics are also available, sounding a further sixth and fourth (a flat, diminished fifth) higher respectively; these are the notes of the altissimo register. Clarinet_sentence_92

This is also why the inner "waist" measurement is so critical to these harmonic frequencies. Clarinet_sentence_93

The highest notes can have a shrill, piercing quality and can be difficult to tune accurately. Clarinet_sentence_94

Different instruments often play differently in this respect due to the sensitivity of the bore and reed measurements. Clarinet_sentence_95

Using alternate fingerings and adjusting the embouchure helps correct the pitch of these notes. Clarinet_sentence_96

Since approximately 1850, clarinets have been nominally tuned according to twelve-tone equal temperament. Clarinet_sentence_97

Older clarinets were nominally tuned to meantone. Clarinet_sentence_98

Skilled performers can use their embouchures to considerably alter the tuning of individual notes or produce vibrato, a pulsating change of pitch often employed in jazz. Clarinet_sentence_99

Vibrato is rare in classical or concert band literature; however, certain clarinetists, such as Richard Stoltzman, use vibrato in classical music. Clarinet_sentence_100

Special fingerings may be used to play quarter tones and other microtonal intervals. Clarinet_sentence_101

Around 1900, Dr. Richard H. Stein, a Berlin musicologist, made a quarter-tone clarinet, which was soon abandoned. Clarinet_sentence_102

Years later, another German, Fritz Schüller of Markneukirchen, built a quarter tone clarinet, with two parallel bores of slightly different lengths whose tone holes are operated using the same keywork and a valve to switch from one bore to the other. Clarinet_sentence_103

Construction Clarinet_section_5

Materials Clarinet_section_6

Clarinet bodies have been made from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, hard rubber, metal, resin, and ivory. Clarinet_sentence_104

The vast majority of clarinets used by professionals are made from African hardwood, mpingo (African Blackwood) or grenadilla, rarely (because of diminishing supplies) Honduran rosewood, and sometimes even cocobolo. Clarinet_sentence_105

Historically other woods, notably boxwood, were used. Clarinet_sentence_106

Most inexpensive clarinets are made of plastic resin, such as ABS. Clarinet_sentence_107

Resonite is Selmer's trademark name for its type of plastic. Clarinet_sentence_108

Metal soprano clarinets were popular in the early 20th century until plastic instruments supplanted them; metal construction is still used for the bodies of some contra-alto and contrabass clarinets and the necks and bells of nearly all alto and larger clarinets. Clarinet_sentence_109

Ivory was used for a few 18th-century clarinets, but it tends to crack and does not keep its shape well. Clarinet_sentence_110

Buffet Crampon's Greenline clarinets are made from a composite of grenadilla wood powder and carbon fiber. Clarinet_sentence_111

Such clarinets are less affected by humidity and temperature changes than wooden instruments but are heavier. Clarinet_sentence_112

Hard rubber, such as ebonite, has been used for clarinets since the 1860s, although few modern clarinets are made of it. Clarinet_sentence_113

Clarinet designers Alastair Hanson and Tom Ridenour are strong advocates of hard rubber. Clarinet_sentence_114

The Hanson Clarinet Company manufactures clarinets using a grenadilla compound reinforced with ebonite, known as BTR (bithermal-reinforced) grenadilla. Clarinet_sentence_115

This material is also not affected by humidity, and the weight is the same as that of a wooden clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_116

Mouthpieces are generally made of hard rubber, although some inexpensive mouthpieces may be made of plastic. Clarinet_sentence_117

Other materials such as crystal/glass, wood, ivory, and metal have also been used. Clarinet_sentence_118

Ligatures are often made of metal and plated in nickel, silver, or gold. Clarinet_sentence_119

Other materials include wire, wire mesh, plastic, naugahyde, string, or leather. Clarinet_sentence_120

Reed Clarinet_section_7

The clarinet uses a single reed made from the cane of Arundo donax, a type of grass. Clarinet_sentence_121

Reeds may also be manufactured from synthetic materials. Clarinet_sentence_122

The ligature fastens the reed to the mouthpiece. Clarinet_sentence_123

When air is blown through the opening between the reed and the mouthpiece facing, the reed vibrates and produces the clarinet's sound. Clarinet_sentence_124

Basic reed measurements are as follows: tip, 12 millimetres (0.47 in) wide; lay, 15 millimetres (0.59 in) long (distance from the place where the reed touches the mouthpiece to the tip); gap, 1 millimetre (0.039 in) (distance between the underside of the reed tip and the mouthpiece). Clarinet_sentence_125

Adjustment to these measurements is one method of affecting tone color. Clarinet_sentence_126

Most clarinetists buy manufactured reeds, although many make adjustments to these reeds, and some make their own reeds from cane "blanks". Clarinet_sentence_127

Reeds come in varying degrees of hardness, generally indicated on a scale from one (soft) through five (hard). Clarinet_sentence_128

This numbering system is not standardized—reeds with the same number often vary in hardness across manufacturers and models. Clarinet_sentence_129

Reed and mouthpiece characteristics work together to determine ease of playability, pitch stability, and tonal characteristics. Clarinet_sentence_130

Components Clarinet_section_8

Note: A Böhm system soprano clarinet is shown in the photos illustrating this section. Clarinet_sentence_131

However, all modern clarinets have similar components. Clarinet_sentence_132

The reed is attached to the mouthpiece by the ligature, and the top half-inch or so of this assembly is held in the player's mouth. Clarinet_sentence_133

In the past, clarinetists used to wrap a string around the mouthpiece and reed instead of using a ligature. Clarinet_sentence_134

The formation of the mouth around the mouthpiece and reed is called the embouchure. Clarinet_sentence_135

The reed is on the underside of the mouthpiece, pressing against the player's lower lip, while the top teeth normally contact the top of the mouthpiece (some players roll the upper lip under the top teeth to form what is called a 'double-lip' embouchure). Clarinet_sentence_136

Adjustments in the strength and shape of the embouchure change the tone and intonation (tuning). Clarinet_sentence_137

It is not uncommon for clarinetists to employ methods to relieve the pressure on the upper teeth and inner lower lip by attaching pads to the top of the mouthpiece or putting (temporary) padding on the front lower teeth, commonly from folded paper. Clarinet_sentence_138

Next is the short barrel; this part of the instrument may be extended to fine-tune the clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_139

As the pitch of the clarinet is fairly temperature-sensitive, some instruments have interchangeable barrels whose lengths vary slightly. Clarinet_sentence_140

Additional compensation for pitch variation and tuning can be made by pulling out the barrel and thus increasing the instrument's length, particularly common in group playing in which clarinets are tuned to other instruments (such as in an orchestra or concert band). Clarinet_sentence_141

Some performers use a plastic barrel with a thumbwheel that adjusts the barrel length. Clarinet_sentence_142

On basset horns and lower clarinets, the barrel is normally replaced by a curved metal neck. Clarinet_sentence_143

The main body of most clarinets is divided into the upper joint, the holes and most keys of which are operated by the left hand, and the lower joint with holes and most keys operated by the right hand. Clarinet_sentence_144

Some clarinets have a single joint: on some basset horns and larger clarinets the two joints are held together with a screw clamp and are usually not disassembled for storage. Clarinet_sentence_145

The left thumb operates both a tone hole and the register key. Clarinet_sentence_146

On some models of clarinet, such as many Albert system clarinets and increasingly some higher-end Böhm system clarinets, the register key is a 'wraparound' key, with the key on the back of the clarinet and the pad on the front. Clarinet_sentence_147

Advocates of the wraparound register key say it improves sound, and it is harder for moisture to accumulate in the tube beneath the pad. Clarinet_sentence_148

Nevertheless, there is a consensus among repair techs that this type of register key is harder to keep in adjustment, i.e., it is hard to have enough spring pressure to close the hole securely. Clarinet_sentence_149

The body of a modern soprano clarinet is equipped with numerous tone holes of which seven (six front, one back) are covered with the fingertips, and the rest are opened or closed using a set of keys. Clarinet_sentence_150

These tone holes let the player produce every note of the chromatic scale. Clarinet_sentence_151

On alto and larger clarinets, and a few soprano clarinets, key-covered holes replace some or all finger holes. Clarinet_sentence_152

The most common system of keys was named the Böhm system by its designer Hyacinthe Klosé in honour of flute designer Theobald Böhm, but it is not the same as the Böhm system used on flutes. Clarinet_sentence_153

The other main system of keys is called the Oehler system and is used mostly in Germany and Austria (see History). Clarinet_sentence_154

The related Albert system is used by some jazz, klezmer, and eastern European folk musicians. Clarinet_sentence_155

The Albert and Oehler systems are both based on the early Mueller system. Clarinet_sentence_156

The cluster of keys at the bottom of the upper joint (protruding slightly beyond the cork of the joint) are known as the trill keys and are operated by the right hand. Clarinet_sentence_157

These give the player alternative fingerings that make it easy to play ornaments and trills. Clarinet_sentence_158

The entire weight of the smaller clarinets is supported by the right thumb behind the lower joint on what is called the thumb-rest. Clarinet_sentence_159

Basset horns and larger clarinets are supported with a neck strap or a floor peg. Clarinet_sentence_160

Finally, the flared end is known as the bell. Clarinet_sentence_161

Contrary to popular belief, the bell does not amplify the sound; rather, it improves the uniformity of the instrument's tone for the lowest notes in each register. Clarinet_sentence_162

For the other notes, the sound is produced almost entirely at the tone holes, and the bell is irrelevant. Clarinet_sentence_163

On basset horns and larger clarinets, the bell curves up and forward and is usually made of metal. Clarinet_sentence_164

Keywork Clarinet_section_9

Theobald Böhm did not directly invent the key system of the clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_165

Böhm was a flautist who created the key system that is now used for the transverse flute. Clarinet_sentence_166

Klosé and Buffet applied Böhm's system to the clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_167

Although the credit goes to those people, Böhm's name was given to that key system because it was based on that used for the flute. Clarinet_sentence_168

The current Böhm key system consists of generally 6 rings, on the thumb, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th holes, and a register key just above the thumb hole, easily accessible with the thumb. Clarinet_sentence_169

Above the 1st hole, there is a key that lifts two covers creating the note A in the throat register (high part of low register) of the clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_170

A key at the side of the instrument at the same height as the A key lifts only one of the two covers, producing G♯, a semitone lower. Clarinet_sentence_171

The A key can be used in conjunction solely with the register key to produce A♯/B♭. Clarinet_sentence_172

History Clarinet_section_10

Lineage Clarinet_section_11

The clarinet has its roots in the early single-reed instruments or hornpipes used in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, Middle East, and Europe since the Middle Ages, such as the albogue, alboka, and double clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_173

The modern clarinet developed from a Baroque instrument called the chalumeau. Clarinet_sentence_174

This instrument was similar to a recorder, but with a single-reed mouthpiece and a cylindrical bore. Clarinet_sentence_175

Lacking a register key, it was played mainly in its fundamental register, with a limited range of about one and a half octaves. Clarinet_sentence_176

It had eight finger holes, like a recorder, and two keys for its two highest notes. Clarinet_sentence_177

At this time, contrary to modern practice, the reed was placed in contact with the upper lip. Clarinet_sentence_178

Around the turn of the 18th century, the chalumeau was modified by converting one of its keys into a register key to produce the first clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_179

This development is usually attributed to German instrument maker Johann Christoph Denner, though some have suggested his son Jacob Denner was the inventor. Clarinet_sentence_180

This instrument played well in the middle register with a loud, shrill sound, so it was given the name clarinetto meaning "little trumpet" (from clarino + -etto). Clarinet_sentence_181

Early clarinets did not play well in the lower register, so players continued to play the chalumeaux for low notes. Clarinet_sentence_182

As clarinets improved, the chalumeau fell into disuse, and these notes became known as the chalumeau register. Clarinet_sentence_183

Original Denner clarinets had two keys, and could play a chromatic scale, but various makers added more keys to get improved tuning, easier fingerings, and a slightly larger range. Clarinet_sentence_184

The classical clarinet of Mozart's day typically had eight finger holes and five keys. Clarinet_sentence_185

Clarinets were soon accepted into orchestras. Clarinet_sentence_186

Later models had a mellower tone than the originals. Clarinet_sentence_187

Mozart (d. 1791) liked the sound of the clarinet (he considered its tone the closest in quality to the human voice) and wrote numerous pieces for the instrument., and by the time of Beethoven (c. 1800–1820), the clarinet was a standard fixture in the orchestra. Clarinet_sentence_188

Pads Clarinet_section_12

The next major development in the history of clarinet was the invention of the modern pad. Clarinet_sentence_189

Because early clarinets used felt pads to cover the tone holes, they leaked air. Clarinet_sentence_190

This required pad-covered holes to be kept to a minimum, restricting the number of notes the clarinet could play with good tone. Clarinet_sentence_191

In 1812, Iwan Müller, a Baltic German community-born clarinetist and inventor, developed a new type of pad that was covered in leather or fish bladder. Clarinet_sentence_192

It was airtight and let makers increase the number of pad-covered holes. Clarinet_sentence_193

Müller designed a new type of clarinet with seven finger holes and thirteen keys. Clarinet_sentence_194

This allowed the instrument to play in any key with near-equal ease. Clarinet_sentence_195

Over the course of the 19th-century, makers made many enhancements to Müller's clarinet, such as the Albert system and the Baermann system, all keeping the same basic design. Clarinet_sentence_196

Modern instruments may also have cork or synthetic pads. Clarinet_sentence_197

Arrangement of keys and holes Clarinet_section_13

Main articles: Albert system, Boehm system (clarinet), Reform Boehm system (clarinet), and Oehler system Clarinet_sentence_198

The final development in the modern design of the clarinet used in most of the world today was introduced by Hyacinthe Klosé in 1839. Clarinet_sentence_199

He devised a different arrangement of keys and finger holes, which allow simpler fingering. Clarinet_sentence_200

It was inspired by the Boehm system developed for flutes by Theobald Böhm. Clarinet_sentence_201

Klosé was so impressed by Böhm's invention that he named his own system for clarinets the Boehm system, although it is different from the one used on flutes. Clarinet_sentence_202

This new system was slow to gain popularity but gradually became the standard, and today the Boehm system is used everywhere in the world except Germany and Austria. Clarinet_sentence_203

These countries still use a direct descendant of the Mueller clarinet known as the Oehler system clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_204

Also, some contemporary Dixieland players continue to use Albert system clarinets. Clarinet_sentence_205

Other key systems have been developed, many built around modifications to the basic Böhm system: Full Böhm, Mazzeo, McIntyre, Benade NX, and the Reform Boehm system for example. Clarinet_sentence_206

Each of these addressed—and often improved—issues of particular "weak" tones, or simplified awkward fingerings, but none has caught on widely among players, and the Boehm system remains the standard, to date. Clarinet_sentence_207

Usage and repertoire Clarinet_section_14

Use of multiple clarinets Clarinet_section_15

The modern orchestral standard of using soprano clarinets in B♭ and A has to do partly with the history of the instrument and partly with acoustics, aesthetics, and economics. Clarinet_sentence_208

Before about 1800, due to the lack of airtight pads (see History), practical woodwinds could have only a few keys to control accidentals (notes outside their diatonic home scales). Clarinet_sentence_209

The low (chalumeau) register of the clarinet spans a twelfth (an octave plus a perfect fifth), so the clarinet needs keys/holes to produce all nineteen notes in this range. Clarinet_sentence_210

This involves more keywork than on instruments that "overblow" at the octave—oboes, flutes, bassoons, and saxophones, for example, which need only twelve notes before overblowing. Clarinet_sentence_211

Clarinets with few keys cannot therefore easily play chromatically, limiting any such instrument to a few closely related keys. Clarinet_sentence_212

For example, an eighteenth-century clarinet in C could be played in F, C, and G (and their relative minors) with good intonation, but with progressive difficulty and poorer intonation as the key moved away from this range. Clarinet_sentence_213

In contrast, for octave-overblowing instruments, an instrument in C with few keys could much more readily be played in any key. Clarinet_sentence_214

This problem was overcome by using three clarinets—in A, B♭, and C—so that early 19th-century music, which rarely strayed into the remote keys (five or six sharps or flats), could be played as follows: music in 5 to 2 sharps (B major to D major concert pitch) on A clarinet (D major to F major for the player), music in 1 sharp to 1 flat (G to F) on C clarinet, and music in 2 flats to 4 flats (B♭ to A♭) on the B♭ clarinet (C to B♭ for the clarinetist). Clarinet_sentence_215

Difficult key signatures and numerous accidentals were thus largely avoided. Clarinet_sentence_216

With the invention of the airtight pad, and as key technology improved and more keys were added to woodwinds, the need for clarinets in multiple keys was reduced. Clarinet_sentence_217

However, the use of multiple instruments in different keys persisted, with the three instruments in C, B♭, and A all used as specified by the composer. Clarinet_sentence_218

The lower-pitched clarinets sound "mellower" (less bright), and the C clarinet—being the highest and therefore brightest of the three—fell out of favour as the other two could cover its range and their sound was considered better. Clarinet_sentence_219

While the clarinet in C began to fall out of general use around 1850, some composers continued to write C parts after this date, e.g., Bizet's Symphony in C (1855), Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. Clarinet_sentence_220 2 (1872), Smetana's overture to The Bartered Bride (1866) and Má Vlast (1874), Dvořák's Slavonic Dance Op. 46, No. Clarinet_sentence_221

1 (1878), Brahms' Symphony No. Clarinet_sentence_222 4 (1885), Mahler's Symphony No. Clarinet_sentence_223 6 (1906), and Richard Strauss deliberately reintroduced it to take advantage of its brighter tone, as in Der Rosenkavalier (1911). Clarinet_sentence_224

While technical improvements and an equal-tempered scale reduced the need for two clarinets, the technical difficulty of playing in remote keys persisted, and the A has thus remained a standard orchestral instrument. Clarinet_sentence_225

In addition, by the late 19th century, the orchestral clarinet repertoire contained so much music for clarinet in A that the disuse of this instrument was not practical. Clarinet_sentence_226

Attempts were made to standardise to the B♭ instrument between 1930 and 1950 (e.g., tutors recommended learning routine transposition of orchestral A parts on the B♭ clarinet, including solos written for A clarinet, and some manufacturers provided a low E♭ on the B♭ to match the range of the A), but this failed in the orchestral sphere. Clarinet_sentence_227

Similarly there have been E♭ and D instruments in the upper soprano range, B♭, A, and C instruments in the bass range, and so forth; but over time the E♭ and B♭ instruments have become predominant. Clarinet_sentence_228

The B♭ instrument remains dominant in concert bands and jazz. Clarinet_sentence_229

B♭ and C instruments are used in some ethnic traditions, such as klezmer. Clarinet_sentence_230

Classical music Clarinet_section_16

In classical music, clarinets are part of standard orchestral and concert band instrumentation. Clarinet_sentence_231

The orchestra frequently includes two clarinetists playing individual parts—each player is usually equipped with a pair of standard clarinets in B♭ and A, and clarinet parts commonly alternate between B♭ and A instruments several times over the course of a piece, or less commonly, a movement (e.g., 1st movement Brahms' 3rd symphony). Clarinet_sentence_232

Clarinet sections grew larger during the last few decades of the 19th century, often employing a third clarinetist, an E♭ or a bass clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_233

In the 20th century, composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, and Olivier Messiaen enlarged the clarinet section on occasion to up to nine players, employing many different clarinets including the E♭ or D soprano clarinets, basset horn, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, and/or contrabass clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_234

In concert bands, clarinets are an important part of the instrumentation. Clarinet_sentence_235

The E♭ clarinet, B♭ clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, and contra-alto/contrabass clarinet are commonly used in concert bands. Clarinet_sentence_236

Concert bands generally have multiple B♭ clarinets; there are commonly 3 B♭ clarinet parts with 2–3 players per part. Clarinet_sentence_237

There is generally only one player per part on the other clarinets. Clarinet_sentence_238

There are not always E♭ clarinet, alto clarinet, and contra-alto clarinets/contrabass clarinet parts in concert band music, but all three are quite common. Clarinet_sentence_239

This practice of using a variety of clarinets to achieve coloristic variety was common in 20th-century classical music and continues today. Clarinet_sentence_240

However, many clarinetists and conductors prefer to play parts originally written for obscure instruments on B♭ or E♭ clarinets, which are often of better quality and more prevalent and accessible. Clarinet_sentence_241

The clarinet is widely used as a solo instrument. Clarinet_sentence_242

The relatively late evolution of the clarinet (when compared to other orchestral woodwinds) has left solo repertoire from the Classical period and later, but few works from the Baroque era. Clarinet_sentence_243

Many clarinet concertos have been written to showcase the instrument, with the concerti by Mozart, Copland, and Weber being well known. Clarinet_sentence_244

Many works of chamber music have also been written for the clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_245

Common combinations are: Clarinet_sentence_246

Jazz Clarinet_section_17

The clarinet was originally a central instrument in jazz, beginning with the New Orleans players in the 1910s. Clarinet_sentence_247

It remained a signature instrument of jazz music through much of the big band era into the 1940s. Clarinet_sentence_248

American players Alphonse Picou, Larry Shields, Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, and Sidney Bechet were all pioneers of the instrument in jazz. Clarinet_sentence_249

The B♭ soprano was the most common instrument, but a few early jazz musicians such as Louis Nelson Delisle and Alcide Nunez preferred the C soprano, and many New Orleans jazz brass bands have used E♭ soprano. Clarinet_sentence_250

Swing clarinetists such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman led successful big bands and smaller groups from the 1930s onward. Clarinet_sentence_251

Duke Ellington, active from the 1920s to the 1970s, used the clarinet as lead instrument in his works, with several players of the instrument (Barney Bigard, Jimmy Hamilton, and Russell Procope) spending a significant portion of their careers in his orchestra. Clarinet_sentence_252

Harry Carney, primarily Ellington's baritone saxophonist, occasionally doubled on bass clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_253

Meanwhile, Pee Wee Russell had a long and successful career in small groups. Clarinet_sentence_254

With the decline of the big bands' popularity in the late 1940s, the clarinet faded from its prominent position in jazz. Clarinet_sentence_255

By that time, an interest in Dixieland or traditional New Orleans jazz had revived; Pete Fountain was one of the best known performers in this genre. Clarinet_sentence_256

Bob Wilber, active since the 1950s, is a more eclectic jazz clarinetist, playing in several classic jazz styles. Clarinet_sentence_257

During the 1950s and 1960s, Britain underwent a surge in the popularity of what was termed 'Trad jazz'. Clarinet_sentence_258

In 1956 the British clarinetist Acker Bilk founded his own ensemble. Clarinet_sentence_259

Several singles recorded by Bilk reached the British pop charts, including the ballad "Stranger on the Shore". Clarinet_sentence_260

The clarinet's place in the jazz ensemble was usurped by the saxophone, which projects a more powerful sound and uses a less complicated fingering system. Clarinet_sentence_261

The requirement for an increased speed of execution in modern jazz also did not favour the clarinet, but the clarinet did not entirely disappear. Clarinet_sentence_262

The clarinetist Stan Hasselgård made a transition from swing to bebop in the mid-1940s. Clarinet_sentence_263

A few players such as Buddy DeFranco, Tony Scott, and Jimmy Giuffre emerged during the 1950s playing bebop or other styles. Clarinet_sentence_264

A little later, Eric Dolphy (on bass clarinet), Perry Robinson, John Carter, Theo Jörgensmann, and others used the clarinet in free jazz. Clarinet_sentence_265

The French composer and clarinetist Jean-Christian Michel initiated a jazz-classical cross-over on the clarinet with the drummer Kenny Clarke. Clarinet_sentence_266

In the U.S., the prominent players on the instrument since the 1980s have included Eddie Daniels, Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich, Ken Peplowski, and others playing the clarinet in more contemporary contexts. Clarinet_sentence_267

Other genres Clarinet_section_18

The clarinet is uncommon, but not unheard of, in rock music. Clarinet_sentence_268

Jerry Martini played clarinet on Sly and the Family Stone's 1968 hit, "Dance to the Music"; Don Byron, a founder of the Black Rock Coalition who was a member of hard rock guitarist Vernon Reid's band, plays clarinet on the Mistaken Identity album (1996). Clarinet_sentence_269

The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, and Tom Waits have also all used clarinet on occasion. Clarinet_sentence_270

A clarinet is prominently featured for two different solos in "Breakfast in America", the title song from the Supertramp album of the same name. Clarinet_sentence_271

Clarinets feature prominently in klezmer music, which entails a distinctive style of playing. Clarinet_sentence_272

The use of quarter-tones requires a different embouchure. Clarinet_sentence_273

Some klezmer musicians prefer Albert system clarinets. Clarinet_sentence_274

The popular Brazilian music styles of choro and samba use the clarinet. Clarinet_sentence_275

Prominent contemporary players include Paulo Moura, Naylor 'Proveta' Azevedo, Paulo Sérgio dos Santos, and Cuban born Paquito D'Rivera. Clarinet_sentence_276

Even though it has been adopted recently in Albanian folklore (around the 18th century), the clarinet, or gërneta as it is called, is one of the most important instruments in Albania, especially in the central and southern areas. Clarinet_sentence_277

The clarinet plays a crucial role in saze (folk) ensembles that perform in weddings and other celebrations. Clarinet_sentence_278

It is worth mentioning that the kaba (an instrumental Albanian Isopolyphony included in UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list) is characteristic of these ensembles. Clarinet_sentence_279

Prominent Albanian clarinet players include Selim Leskoviku, Gaqo Lena, Remzi Lela (Çobani), Laver Bariu (Ustai), and Nevruz Nure (Lulushi i Korçës). Clarinet_sentence_280

The clarinet is prominent in Bulgarian wedding music also; it is an offshoot of Roma/Romani traditional music. Clarinet_sentence_281

Ivo Papazov is a well-known clarinetist in this genre. Clarinet_sentence_282

In Moravian dulcimer bands, the clarinet is usually the only wind instrument among string instruments. Clarinet_sentence_283

In old-town folk music in North Macedonia (called čalgija ("чалгија")), the clarinet has the most important role in wedding music; clarinet solos mark the high point of dancing euphoria. Clarinet_sentence_284

One of the most renowned Macedonian clarinet players is Tale Ognenovski, who gained worldwide fame for his virtuosity. Clarinet_sentence_285

In Greece, the clarinet (usually referred to as "κλαρίνο"—"clarino") is prominent in traditional music, especially in central, northwest, and northern Greece (Thessaly, Epirus, and Macedonia). Clarinet_sentence_286

The double-reed zurna was the dominant woodwind instrument before the clarinet arrived in the country, although many Greeks regard the clarinet as a native instrument. Clarinet_sentence_287

Traditional dance music, wedding music, and laments include a clarinet soloist and quite often improvisations. Clarinet_sentence_288

Petroloukas Chalkias is a famous clarinetist in this genre. Clarinet_sentence_289

The instrument is equally famous in Turkey, especially the lower-pitched clarinet in G. The western European clarinet crossed via Turkey to Arabic music, where it is widely used in Arabic pop, especially if the intention of the arranger is to imitate the Turkish style. Clarinet_sentence_290

Also in Turkish folk music, a clarinet-like woodwind instrument, the sipsi, is used. Clarinet_sentence_291

However, it is far more rare than the soprano clarinet and is mainly limited to folk music of the Aegean Region. Clarinet_sentence_292

Groups of clarinets Clarinet_section_19

Groups of clarinets playing together have become increasingly popular among clarinet enthusiasts in recent years. Clarinet_sentence_293

Common forms are: Clarinet_sentence_294


  • Clarinet choir, which features a large number of clarinets playing together, usually involves a range of different members of the clarinet family (see Extended family of clarinets). The homogeneity of tone across the different members of the clarinet family produces an effect with some similarities to a human choir.Clarinet_item_2_8
  • Clarinet quartet, usually three B♭ sopranos and one B♭ bass, or two B♭, an E♭ alto clarinet, and a B♭ bass clarinet, or sometimes four B♭ sopranos.Clarinet_item_2_9

Clarinet choirs and quartets often play arrangements of both classical and popular music, in addition to a body of literature specially written for a combination of clarinets by composers such as Arnold Cooke, Alfred Uhl, Lucien Caillet, and Václav Nelhýbel. Clarinet_sentence_295

Extended family of clarinets Clarinet_section_20

Main article: Clarinet family Clarinet_sentence_296

There is a family of many differently pitched clarinet types, some of which are very rare. Clarinet_sentence_297

The following are the most important sizes, from highest to lowest: Clarinet_sentence_298


NameClarinet_header_cell_1_0_0 KeyClarinet_header_cell_1_0_1 CommentaryClarinet_header_cell_1_0_2 Range (concert)Clarinet_header_cell_1_0_3
Piccolo clarinetClarinet_cell_1_1_0 A♭Clarinet_cell_1_1_1 Now rare, used for Italian military music and some contemporary pieces for its sonority.Clarinet_cell_1_1_2 Clarinet_cell_1_1_3
E♭ clarinet

(Sopranino clarinet in E♭)Clarinet_cell_1_2_0

E♭Clarinet_cell_1_2_1 It has a characteristically shrill timbre, and is used to great effect in the classical orchestra whenever a brighter, or sometimes a more rustic or comical sound is called for. Richard Strauss featured it as a solo instrument in his symphonic poem, Till Eulenspiegel. It is much used in the concert band repertoire where it helps out the piccolo flute in the higher register and is very compatible with other band instruments, especially those in B♭ and E♭.Clarinet_cell_1_2_2 Clarinet_cell_1_2_3
D clarinet

(Sopranino clarinet in D)Clarinet_cell_1_3_0

DClarinet_cell_1_3_1 This was, to the high pitched E♭ instrument, what the A clarinet is to the B♭. Advances in playing technique and the instrument's mechanism meant that players could play parts for the D instrument on their E♭ thus making this instrument more and more expendable. Though a few early pieces were written for it, its repertoire is now very limited in Western music. Nonetheless Stravinsky included both the D and E♭ clarinets in his instrumentation for The Rite Of Spring.Clarinet_cell_1_3_2 Clarinet_cell_1_3_3
C clarinet

(Soprano clarinet in C)Clarinet_cell_1_4_0

CClarinet_cell_1_4_1 Although this clarinet was very common in the instrument's earliest period, its use began to dwindle, and by the second decade of the twentieth century it had become practically obsolete and disappeared from the orchestra. From the time of Mozart, many composers began to favour the mellower, lower pitched instruments, and the timbre of the 'C' instrument may have been considered too bright. Also, to avoid having to carry an extra instrument that required another reed and mouthpiece, orchestral players preferred to play parts for this instrument on their B♭ clarinets, transposing up a tone.Clarinet_cell_1_4_2 Clarinet_cell_1_4_3
B♭ clarinet

(Soprano clarinet in B♭)Clarinet_cell_1_5_0

B♭Clarinet_cell_1_5_1 The most common type: used in most styles of music. Usually the term clarinet on its own refers to this instrument. It was commonly used in early jazz and swing. This was the instrument of renowned and popular figures such as Sidney Bechet, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, and Artie Shaw.Clarinet_cell_1_5_2 Clarinet_cell_1_5_3
'A' clarinet

(Soprano clarinet in A)Clarinet_cell_1_6_0

AClarinet_cell_1_6_1 Many clarinetists and some composers maintain that this has a somewhat mellower sound than the B♭; most people can't perceive a difference in blindfold testing. It is frequently used in orchestral and chamber music, especially of the nineteenth century. The Clarinet Quintet by Brahms (op. 115) is a notable example.Clarinet_cell_1_6_2 Clarinet_cell_1_6_3
Basset clarinetClarinet_cell_1_7_0 AClarinet_cell_1_7_1 Clarinet in A extended to a low C; used primarily to play Classical-era music. Mozart's Clarinet Concerto was written for this instrument, though it is frequently played in a version for the ordinary A clarinet. Basset clarinets in B♭ also exist; this instrument is required to play the obbligato to the aria "Parto, parto" in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito.Clarinet_cell_1_7_2 Clarinet_cell_1_7_3
Basset-hornClarinet_cell_1_8_0 FClarinet_cell_1_8_1 Similar in appearance to the alto, but differs in that it is pitched in F, has an extended range to low C, and has a narrower bore on most models. Mozart's Clarinet Concerto was originally sketched out as a concerto for basset horn in G. Rarely used today.Clarinet_cell_1_8_2 Clarinet_cell_1_8_3
Alto clarinetClarinet_cell_1_9_0 E♭ or FClarinet_cell_1_9_1 Sometimes referred to (mostly in Europe) as the tenor clarinet. Its greater size and consequently lower pitch give it a rich, dark sonority capable of greater resonance than the soprano instruments, but with less projection than the larger bass clarinet. It is used in chamber music and concert bands, and occasionally, if rarely, in orchestras. A few players have specialized in using the alto in jazz (e.g. Gianluigi Trovesi). The alto in F is considered obsolete.Clarinet_cell_1_9_2 Clarinet_cell_1_9_3
Bass clarinetClarinet_cell_1_10_0 B♭ or AClarinet_cell_1_10_1 Invented in the 1770s, it only became popular around a hundred years later when it contributed to the rich orchestral palettes of composers such as Wagner and the late Romantics. It has become a mainstay of the modern orchestra. Originally, the third clarinet would double on bass, but now, most orchestras employ a specialist devoted principally to this instrument. It is used in concert bands, contemporary music, and enjoys, along with the B♭ clarinet, a considerable role in jazz. Eric Dolphy was one of its more remarkable exponents. The bass clarinet in A, which had a vogue among certain composers from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries, is now so rare as to usually be considered obsolete.Clarinet_cell_1_10_2 Clarinet_cell_1_10_3
E♭ contrabass clarinet (also called Contra-alto or Contralto clarinet)Clarinet_cell_1_11_0 EE♭Clarinet_cell_1_11_1 Used in clarinet choirs and is common in concert bands.Clarinet_cell_1_11_2 Clarinet_cell_1_11_3
Contrabass clarinet (also called double-bass clarinet)Clarinet_cell_1_12_0 BB♭Clarinet_cell_1_12_1 Used in clarinet choirs and is common in concert bands. It is sometimes used in orchestras. Arnold Schoenberg calls for a contrabass clarinet in A in his Five Pieces for Orchestra, but it is not clear if such an instrument ever existed.Clarinet_cell_1_12_2 Clarinet_cell_1_12_3

EEE♭ and BBB♭ octocontra-alto and octocontrabass clarinets have also been built. Clarinet_sentence_299

There have also been soprano clarinets in C, A, and B♭ with curved barrels and bells marketed under the names saxonette, claribel, and clariphon. Clarinet_sentence_300

See also Clarinet_section_21


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