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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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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Is the Clarinet Hard to Play?

When it comes to the question of whether or not the clarinet is hard to play, the answer is yes.

All musical instruments are difficult to play in their own way.

Each requires exacting attention to detail, innate musical sense, and a thorough understanding of the accompanying physical demands.

Is the Clarinet Hard to Play? Consistently practicing a proper embouchure, breathing, airflow, rhythm, articulation, and intonation, makes playing the clarinet easier over time.

Playing the clarinet is like playing the old game of patting your head while rotating your hand on your belly. The only real difference is that you have six heads, and you have to pat each head in a different way while still rubbing your gut.

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How often should a clarinet be serviced?

When Johann Denner first invented the “improved chalumeau” in 1689 or 1690, he took the earlier instrument and added a register key while improving the location of the tone holes.

About 100 years later, the clarinet Mozart had when he composed the Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, and the Concerto, K. 622, for Anton Stadler, the instrument had only six keys on it.

That included the register key. The modern clarinet has 20 or more keys.

It requires lots more attention and repair than Stadler’s model.

How often should a clarinet be serviced? Key’s need to be adjusted yearly. A complete re-pad is recommended every 2-3 years.  The Bore and body require oil once every 8-10 years. In general, pads, keys, springs, and tenon corks are replaced or adjusted as needed.

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