What is a Clarinet? Top 10 FAQ Answered

what is a clarinet

The clarinet is a versatile instrument in bands, orchestras, and jazz ensembles. It is also a solo instrument.

In the concert band, it takes the place of the string section. In the orchestra, the clarinet usually appears in pairs and plays both lyrical and technical passages. Many jazz clarinetists also play saxophone and flute especially those who play in pit ensembles for stage shows. Some even play oboe and bassoon too.

Still, the clarinet is a crucial member to any ensemble in which it takes part. Its unique timbre and overtones give it its characteristic sound, which can be expressive and loving as well as fiery and thrilling.

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How to Play Clarinet

Like any musical instrument, the clarinet is difficult.

The operant saying is, “There is no easy way into the band room.” The saying applies equally to the orchestra rehearsal hall.

There’s an old children’s game of patting one’s head while trying to trace a circle with the opposite hand on one’s midsection.

Playing clarinet is a lot like trying to do that with four arms and six hands.

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How to Assemble a Clarinet

The Bb and A clarinets consist of five pieces each: the mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell.

Bass clarinets generally have three or four pieces. They don’t have a barrel, and the upper and lower joints are sometimes molded in one piece. A bass clarinet will also have a peg that screws into the bottom of the bell so that the player can adjust the height.

Eb and Ab clarinets also lack the upper and lower joints. The middle portion of these clarinets is one piece. Contrabass clarinets made of metal are fastened together as one large piece but still have mouthpieces.

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How to Clean a Clarinet

Your clarinet gets all manner of things on itself: key oil, bore oil, oil from your fingers, felt or other lining materials from your case, and all of the dust and other tiny detritus that you find in homes, in rehearsal halls, or on concert stages.

In rare cases, you might even get food or drink dropped or spilled on your clarinet. In short clarinets get dirty.

Most of the stuff you can get on your clarinet is not inherently harmful. Food and drink, however, can be anything from merely annoying to devastating.

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What is the difference between the B flat and A clarinets?

There are a whole family of clarinets of various sizes.

The smallest is the Ab clarinet. It’s so small, in fact, that many players cannot even play it because their fingers are bigger than the keys and the tone holes.

The Eb clarinet is about half the size of a Bb clarinet and is used for color in both band and orchestra.

What is the difference between the B flat and A clarinets? The Bb clarinet is the main clarinet, used in both bands and orchestras. The A clarinet is a slightly longer clarinet with a darker tone and half-step deeper pitch, used almost exclusively as an orchestral and solo instrument.

After that, there are the alto, contra-alto, bass, and contrabass clarinets. There is also a very rare sub-contrabass clarinet that plays an octave lower than the contrabass.

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