|Clarinet with a Boehm System. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The clarinet is the second highest sounding instrument of the woodwind family which consists of flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. It was invented by Johann Denner around 1690 and in the 1800's Klose adapted the Boehm flute system to the clarinet making it playing in all keys. It came into general use around the time of Mozart and beyond. Here is some information to help you decide if you want to learn the clarinet.
The clarinet has been made from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, hard rubber, metal, resin, and ivory. Grenada is a popular material used by professional musicians and most modern inexpensive clarinets are made form resonite ( plastic resin ). It looks like a long cylindrical tube with keys down the length of the tube covered by keys. The upper end is shaped like a mouthpiece and the lower end opens out like a bell shape. One side of the mouthpiece is flattened to allow the single reed made up of a single piece of cane to be fixed to it.
Clarinet players hold the instrument in front of them and produce a sound by blowing through the single reed on the mouthpiece, thus making the reed vibrate against the mouthpiece. The various sounds are created when the player presses down the keys and hinged rings such that movable pads cover the holes, in different configurations or finger patterns. The clarinet produces a mellow tone with a brilliant upper sound. The range of notes the clarinet can produce is over three octaves from E below middle C on the piano upwards to a C three octaves higher.
There are more than twelve types of clarinet with varying sizes and pitches, hence they make up the clarinet family. Many are rare or obsolete. The most common ones used today are the clarinet in Bb and clarinet in A. Both are used in orchestras depending on the key of the piece.
Clarinets are used in jazz and classical ensembles eg the orchestra, concert bands, in chamber groups, and as a solo instrument. They are rarely used in rock or pop music. There are usually two to three clarinet players in an orchestra each having different parts and changing between the clarinet in A and clarinet in Bb. A popular chamber group which the oboe takes part in is the wind quartet which consists of 1 flute, 1 clarinet, 1 oboe, 1 bassoon, 1 french horn. And it is combined with other instruments in various groupings.
Some famous clarinet players include Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Sabine Meyer, Julian Bliss, Richard Stoltzman.
Clarinet Reed Trimmer