Clarinet in Bb - Brief Description
German: Klarinette in B
Italian: clarinetto in si bemolle
French: clarinette en si bémol
The clarinet is the most recent addition to the woodwind family (flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet) and was the last woodwind to be integrated into the symphony orchestra (during the period of “Viennese Classicism” in the 2nd half of the 18th century).
The clarinet in Bb, a soprano woodwind instrument, is the most commonly used in the clarinet family. In the orchestra clarinets in A and C are used, as are the small clarinet (in Eb or D), the basset horn in F and the bass clarinet in Bb.
In marching bands and wind bands, in which the clarinet is the most important woodwind, high clarinets in F and Ab are also played. In the USA there are clarinet-only orchestras, in which the more common instruments are joined by the alto clarinet (in Eb) and the contrabass clarinet (in Bb).
The clarinet is composed of five parts: the beak-shaped mouthpiece with a single reed, the barrel (or socket), a piece of tube that bulges like a barrel, the upper joint (left-hand joint), the lower joint (right-hand joint) and the funnel-shaped bell.
Slight alterations to the overall tuning can be made by using barrels of varying length.
The keywork is particularly complicated because the clarinet overblows to a twelfth which extends its fundamental compass to nineteen half tones. The other woodwinds overblow to the octave (twelve half tones).
Aerophone, single-reed instrument, woodwind
Tube: Ebonite or grenadilla or metal; keywork: nickel silver, brass, silver or gold
Beak-shaped mouthpiece made of ebonite or cocus wood with a single reed (width up to 12.5 mm, material: arundo donax)
Mainly cylindrical, barrel-shaped bulge below the mouthpiece (barrel)
Approx. 66 cm (clarinet in Bb), approx. 71 cm (clarinet in A)
Medium, inner diameter approx. 12.7 mm
24 tone holes; German (Oehler clarinet) or French keywork (Boehm clarinet)