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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000254.txt from 1995/03

From: Thomas Labadorf <Labadorf@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: Alto Clarinet
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 09:44:36 -0500

Thank you, Dan Leeson, for the information on the alto clarinet/basset horn
issue. I had the pleasure of talking to you about this at the Mid-west Band
and Orchestra clinic in Chicago in 1991. I had to ask here because I
couldn't remember all of what you said then. (You made some very interesting
points in your talk on improvisation in Mozarts Grand Partita Serenade which
I've carried with me ever since. By the way, I was one of the basset horn
players in the group that performed it for you.)

---One can argue that neither LeBlanc nor Buffet now make basset horns.
They make alto clarinets in F which descend to low C.

The purpose for my original question was this. I have access to an alto
clarinet, but not to basset horn. I was curious if there was a significant
tone quality difference. By your message, it appears I can get away with
playing b.h. music on alto as long as the part doesn't get below range.

In your message you said, "It is not possible to use an alto clarinet in
place of a basset horn for the major literature since the alto clarinet
cannot get down low enough." Of course you're correct, but consider this:
The lowest note on b.h. concert pitch is f below the bass cleff staff. The
lowest concert pitch for alto is g bottom line bass cleff. If I figured the
transposition correctly this means you'd only be missing a major second from
the original b.h. range . How often does b.h. music make use of the low c
and c#? Also, the transposition from b.h. in F to alto in Eb would be like
reading c clarinet music on Bb.

I realize this approach is a bit "mickey mouse," but I think this will make
possible the performance of some music that would otherwise be impossible
without the original instrument.

Does this all seem logial to you? Anybody else have some thoughts?

Tom L.

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