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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000213.txt from 2001/04

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: Re: [kl] C clarinet
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 12:34:49 -0400

Eric, you have a complex problem on your hands in which both sides are

>From the publisher's point of view, they will lose sales if the parts
are not printed for clarinet types in general use. Horn players are
expected to be able to transpose anything, but not clarinetists. So the
publisher's point of view is strictly economic, not historical.
Besides, despite advances over the years, most clarinet players do not
have C clarinets in any case.

On the other hand, you are absolutely correct in suggesting that the
parts be printed as they were written, and it is not a trivial point.
First, I will bet you $10 sight unseen, that, when using the clarinets
specified in the original, no clarinet will be required to play in any
key signature of more than 1 sharp or more than 1 flat. And that is the
main technical and historical reason why C and B-flat and A clarinets
were used at that time, not for tonal characteristic, but to assure that
no clarinet played outside of the range of proscribed key signatures.
(By the way, I sense in your note the assumption that when a clarinet
player sees "Clarinet in C" his/her business is to transpose the part.
Nonsense!!! It is his/her business to execute the part on a clarinet in

Even though the decision of which clarinet to use was not made on the
basis of sound character, selecting a clarinet different than that
specified will produce a sound character different than that for which
the arrangement was made. That may not be a big thing to you (and it
certainly is of no import whatsoever to the publisher), but it is a fact
that cannot be challenged. The best one can say is that it's true but
unimportant. I happen not to agree with that, but so what?

You have only one option: provide the clarinet parts in both the
original and (where necessary) the transposed version. This satisfies
your historical accuracy as well as keeping the publisher happy. True,
the parts will be thicker and thus the printing costs higher, but charge
another $5 per set and that will cover that.

eric james wrote:
> Hi to all clarinettists:
> I wonder if any of you can help me with a C clarinet problem I have. I am in
> the process of getting a work published. It is Harmoniemusik from the time of
> Mozart and deals with both horns and clarinets in various keys. The clarinets
> alternate between Bb and C instruments. The publisher wants all the parts to
> be printed for Bb clarinet and F horn. As a horn player, I know that it is
> actually more confusing to play music of this sort that has been transposed.
> The notes just don't look right. But I wonder how clarinettists see things.
> They have much more complex parts than horns. Is preferable to have C
> clarinet parts transposed to Bb or to play from the original C parts?
> My own preference is to publish the parts in their original keys and let
> performers make of them what they will. This would also address the
> proliferation of "authentic" performance groups. I've no idea what a
> classical C clarinettist would make of a Bb part. Any thoughts on the matter
> would be greatly appreciated.
> Eric James
> Get free email and a permanent address at
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** Dan Leeson **
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