It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore , and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist sometimes spelled clarinettist. 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.
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. 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.
The trumpet parts that required this specialty were known by the term clarino and this in turn came to apply to the musicians themselves. 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". Johann Christoph Denner is generally believed to have invented the clarinet in Germany around the year by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau.
Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the tone and playability. These days [ when? However, the clarinet in A, just a semitone lower, is sometimes used in orchestral music, especially older European music. The clarinet has proved to be an exceptionally flexible instrument, equally at home in the classical repertoire as in concert bands , military bands , marching bands , klezmer , and jazz.
It would seem however that its real roots are to be found amongst some of the various names for trumpets used around the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
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Clarion , clarin and the Italian clarino are all derived from the medieval term claro which referred to an early form of trumpet. According to Johann Gottfried Walther , writing in , the reason for the name is that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet". The English form clarinet is found as early as , and the now-archaic clarionet appears from until the early years of the 20th century.
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. The tone quality can vary greatly with the clarinetist, music, instrument, mouthpiece, and reed. 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.
The latter was centered on the clarinetists of the Conservatoire de Paris. The modern clarinetist has a diverse palette of "acceptable" tone qualities to choose from.
Dimitri Cervo - Glinc - Clarinet in B-flat sheet music
Clarinets have the largest pitch range of common woodwinds. The lowest concert pitch depends on the transposition of the instrument in question. 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 D 3 on a soprano clarinet or C 4 , i.
Modern professional-quality bass clarinets generally have additional keywork to written C 3. 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. G 6 is usually the highest note clarinetists encounter in classical repertoire.
The range of a clarinet can be divided into three distinct registers:. All three registers have characteristically different sounds. The chalumeau register is rich and dark. The clarion register is brighter and sweet, like a trumpet clarion heard from afar. The altissimo register can be piercing and sometimes shrill. Sound is a wave that propagates through the air as a result of a local variation in air pressure.
The production of sound by a clarinet follows these steps: 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. This represents a repeat of the cycle times per second. In addition to this primary compression wave, other waves, known as harmonics , are created. 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.
A wide variety of compression waves are created, but only some primarily the odd harmonics are reinforced. These extra waves are what gives the clarinet its characteristic tone. The bore is cylindrical for most of the tube with an inner bore diameter between 14 and The bell at the bottom of the clarinet flares out to improve the tone and tuning of the lowest notes. Most modern clarinets have "undercut" tone holes that improve intonation and sound.
Undercutting means chamfering the bottom edge of tone holes inside the bore. 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. The fixed reed and fairly uniform diameter of the clarinet give the instrument an acoustical behavior approximating that of a cylindrical stopped pipe.
Adjusting the angle of the bore taper controls the frequencies of the overblown notes harmonics. 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.
They will have an embouchure which places an even pressure across the reed by carefully controlling their lip muscles. 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. 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.
This produces a note a twelfth above the original note.
Dimitri Cervo - Glinc - Clarinet in B-flat information
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. This means it cannot be reinforced and so would die away.
The chalumeau register plays fundamentals, whereas the clarion register, aided by the register key, plays third harmonics a perfect twelfth higher than the fundamentals. 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. The clarinet is therefore said to overblow at the twelfth and, when moving to the altissimo register, seventeenth.
By contrast, nearly all other woodwind instruments overblow at the octave or like the ocarina and tonette do not overblow at all. This overblowing behavior explains the clarinet's great range and complex fingering system. 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. The highest notes can have a shrill, piercing quality and can be difficult to tune accurately. Different instruments often play differently in this respect due to the sensitivity of the bore and reed measurements.
Using alternate fingerings and adjusting the embouchure help correct the pitch of these notes. Since approximately , clarinets have been nominally tuned according to twelve-tone equal temperament. Older clarinets were nominally tuned to meantone. A skilled performer can use his or her embouchure to considerably alter the tuning of individual notes or produce vibrato , a pulsating change of pitch often employed in jazz. Special fingerings may be used to play quarter tones and other microtonal intervals.
Stein, a Berlin musicologist, made a quarter-tone clarinet, which was soon abandoned. Clarinet bodies have been made from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, hard rubber , metal, resin , and ivory. 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.
Hard rubber, such as ebonite , has been used for clarinets since the s, although few modern clarinets are made of it. Clarinet designers Alastair Hanson and Tom Ridenour are strong advocates of hard rubber. This material is also not affected by humidity, and the weight is the same as that of a wooden clarinet.
Mouthpieces are generally made of hard rubber, although some inexpensive mouthpieces may be made of plastic. Other materials include wire, wire mesh, plastic, naugahyde , string, or leather. The clarinet uses a single reed made from the cane of Arundo donax , a type of grass. The ligature fastens the reed to the mouthpiece. When air is blown through the opening between the reed and the mouthpiece facing, the reed vibrates and produces the clarinet's sound.
Basic reed measurements are as follows: Adjustment to these measurements is one method of affecting tone color. Most clarinetists buy manufactured reeds, although many make adjustments to these reeds, and some make their own reeds from cane "blanks". This numbering system is not standardized—reeds with the same number often vary in hardness across manufacturers and models. A Boehm system soprano clarinet is shown in the photos illustrating this section.
However, all modern clarinets have similar components. 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. In the past clarinetists used to wrap a string around the mouthpiece and reed instead of using a ligature. The formation of the mouth around the mouthpiece and reed is called the embouchure. 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.
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. Next is the short barrel ; this part of the instrument may be extended to fine-tune the clarinet.
As the pitch of the clarinet is fairly temperature-sensitive, some instruments have interchangeable barrels whose lengths vary slightly.
The Clarinet Family
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. Some performers use a plastic barrel with a thumbwheel that adjusts the barrel length.
On basset horns and lower clarinets, the barrel is normally replaced by a curved metal neck. 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. Some clarinets have a single joint: The left thumb operates both a tone hole and the register key. On some models of clarinet, such as many Albert system clarinets and increasingly some higher-end Boehm system clarinets, the register key is a 'wraparound' key, with the key on the back of the clarinet and the pad on the front.
Advocates of the wraparound register key say it improves sound, and it is harder for moisture to accumulate in the tube beneath the pad. 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. These tone holes let the player produce every note of the chromatic scale.
b-flat clarinet – Bandestration
On alto and larger clarinets, and a few soprano clarinets, key-covered holes replace some or all finger holes. 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. Finally, the flared end is known as the bell. 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.
Theobald Boehm did not directly invent the key system of the clarinet. Boehm was a flautist who created the key system that is now used for the transverse flute. Although the credit goes to those people, Boehm's name was given to that key system because it was based on that used for flute. The current Boehm key system consists of generally 6 rings, on the thumb, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th holes, a register key just above the thumb hole, easily accessible with the thumb.
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. The clarinet has its roots in the early single-reed instruments or hornpipes used in Ancient Greece , old Egypt,  Middle East , and Europe since the Middle Ages , such as the albogue , alboka , and double clarinet.
The modern clarinet developed from a Baroque instrument called the chalumeau. This instrument was similar to a recorder , but with a single-reed mouthpiece and a cylindrical bore. 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. This development is usually attributed to German instrument maker Johann Christoph Denner , though some have suggested his son Jacob Denner was the inventor. Early clarinets did not play well in the lower register, so players continued to play the chalumeaux for low notes.
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. Clarinets were soon accepted into orchestras. Later models had a mellower tone than the originals. The next major development in the history of clarinet was the invention of the modern pad.
This required pad-covered holes to be kept to a minimum, restricting the number of notes the clarinet could play with good tone. They are used in vienniese folk music called "Schrammel-Musik". In contrast to the E flat clarinet the high-G has a very fine sound. You can have this built by Schwenk und Seggelke , were you find a description of the instrument. This is a common question: Isn't it possible, to play - instead of an E flat clarinet - a B flat clarinet, just an octave higher than it is written?
Then you could save the money for the E flat clarinet, and it would be enough to have, say, a B flat and a bass clarinet B flat, too for all existing literature. You do play the same notes then, don't you? The answer is NO - this won't work well.
In a tutti part, when everybody plays fff, and just harmony is important, it may be difficult for the audience to notice that you used a different instrument. When you have a more prominent part, the difference becomes more obvious: The clarinet's sound differs strongly in the upper and lower register of the instrument. Notes that an E flat clarinet plays in the sonore lower register with strong low overtones would be played in the rather neutral part of the upper register of an A or B flat clarinet. The clarinet is not a cheap synthesizer where every note sounds the same, just at a different frequency.
If the composer wanted this effect, and the audience expects it, you better come close to what is expected. In case of emergency you may play a part with another clarinet of similar size replace A with B flat or bassett horn with alto clarinet, but then you will have a transposition problem with lots of sharps or flats.
So if you have to replace one clarinet with another, keep in mind that it will sound differently.