CLARINET: single-reed instrument with
cylindrical bore; overtone series based on the interval of a 12th.
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
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
PARTS OF THE CLARINET: (1) mouthpiece,
ligature, cap, (2) barrel, (3) upper joint, (4) lower joint, (5)
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
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,
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.