MUS 215

Clarinet

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CLARINET:  single-reed instrument with cylindrical bore; overtone series based on the interval of a 12th.

CLARINET FAMILY:

ABBREV. ENGLISH GERMAN FRENCH ITALIAN
Cl., Kl. Clarinet(s) Klarinette
Klarinetten
Clarinette(s) Clarinetto
Clarinetti
B.Cl., Bkl. Bass Clarinet Bassklarinette Clarinette-basse Clarione
Clarinetto Basso

The Eb clarinet sounds a minor 3rd higher than the written pitch.

*The Bb clarinet--most common--sounds a major 2nd lower than the written pitch.*

The A clarinet sounds a minor 3rd lower than the written pitch.

The Eb alto clarinet sounds a major 6th lower than the written pitch.

The Bb bass clarinet sounds a major 9th lower than the written pitch.

The final two clarinets, while not rare, are not common.  The Eb contralto clarinet sounds an octave plus a major 6th lower than the written pitch.  The Bb contrabass clarinet sounds two octaves plus a major 2nd lower than the written pitch.  

WRITTEN RANGE:

REGISTERS OF THE CLARINET:

DESIRABLE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES:  Physical attributes are not always reliable.  Thick lips, thin lips, overbite and underbite, crooked teeth and straight teeth can all be compensated for, if necessary, by embouchure formation.  The clarinet is an excellent starting instrument, and lays a good foundation for switching to the other woodwind instruments later, if desired.

PARTS OF THE CLARINET:  (1) mouthpiece, ligature, cap, (2) barrel, (3) upper joint, (4) lower joint, (5) bell.

HOLDING POSITION:  (1) The clarinet is held in the center of the body at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees to the body.  (2) It is balanced between the right thumb and the embouchure, assisted by the left thumb.  (3) The head is erect; chin up.  (4) The right thumb contacts the thumb rest at the base of the nail.  (5) The left thumb is placed at a diagonal angle across the tone hole so that it may also access the register key.  (6) The little fingers remain over their respective plateau keys.  (7) The fingers are naturally curved.  

EMBOUCHURE:  (1) The lower lip is placed over the bottom teeth.  (2) The upper teeth are placed on top of the mouthpiece approximately a half inch from the tip of the mouthpiece.  (3) The lip supports the reed and mouthpiece inwardly in all directions with equal pressure.  (4) The lower teeth support the lip; however, there is little upward pressure from the teeth.  Pressure is provided by the lip muscles.  (5) Chin muscles are firm and flat.

TUNING WHILE PLAYING:  (1) Increasing pressure on the reed will sharpen the pitch.  (2) Decreasing pressure on the reed will flatten the pitch.

THE FOLLOWING NOTES TEND TO BE SHARP:

THE FOLLOWING NOTES TEND TO BE FLAT:  

BRANDS:  Good student brands:  Vito, Bundy, Yamaha, Evette Shaeffer, Selmer Signet, Normandy.  Avoid:  Artley (posts aren't screwed into body ... at least, at one time).  Professional brands:  Buffet, Leblanc, Selmer, Yamaha.

HISTORICAL TIDBITS:

The ancestor of the clarinet is the ancient chalumeau, a primitive reed instrument made of cane.  It was a favorite instrument of the Greeks and Persians during the Middle Ages.

J. C. Denner of Saxony is usually given credit for inventing the clarinet in 1690.  The invention, however, consisted primarily of a speaker key.

The Boehm flute key system (1832) was so superior that some musicians began to wonder if it could be applied to the clarinet.  In 1843 (completed c. 1850), Klosť had a clarinet built for his own use based on the Boehm mechanism.  This far superior system is used almost exclusively today.

The first metal clarinet was made in 1887.

At first, the clarinet family consisted only of the soprano.  Eventually, the basset horn in F was invented by Horn of Passau, Bavaria in 1770.  The bass clarinet was invented in 1793 by Gresner of Dresden.  This instrument, however, was really perfected by Sax, inventor of the saxophone.

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