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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000954.txt from 2002/06

From: "Joseph Wakeling" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] New Thing
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 15:32:43 -0400

Jim Franklin wrote:

<< My impression is that they specified Bb or A or C clarinets merely to
facilitate playing in certain keys (especially with the limited clarinets
available in Mozart's or Shubert's or Brahms's day). >>

And Dan Leeson replied:

<< Absolutely not!! While it is partially true to suggest that clarinets of
a certain pitch were selected because of key complexities, it is equally
true to suggest that, once chosen, the characteristic sound of that
instrument was exploited by the composer. >>

To add to what Dan has said: I understand that R. Strauss (at least) once
used A and Bb clarinets together in a piece because of the colour difference
he perceived. Berlioz is another for whom choice of clarinet was incredibly
important (the choice of C clarinet in the Symphonie Fantastique, for
example), and there are the Stravinsky Three Pieces which specify A for the
first two and Bb for the third (for a solo piece). And when Mueller
presented his "fully chromatic" clarinet key system (which he claimed would
make A and C clarinets obsolete) one of the reasons for rejecting this
solution was because it would deny the composers the different colours
provided by the different-pitched instruments.

-- Joe


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