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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000874.txt from 2003/06

From: George Kidder <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Left, Right or mixed handed?
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 09:50:30 -0400

At 10:17 PM 6/24/03, you wrote:

>1) This is something that has always made me wonder, in those small hours
>of the night: Does anyone have any idea WHY the left hand plays on the
>upper joint, and the right hand on the lower joint of ALL the woodwinds,
>not just the clarinet? I mean, I have no desire to switch this - and
>IIRC, I believe Abe Galper once posted a link to a pic of a clarinet that
>had been done up with the right hand using the upper joint and the left
>hand the lower - but it is something I wonder about, as to why it
>developed that way, and not the other way around. Was there some point in
>time at which standardization occurred, before which instruments made both
>ways (presumably by hand) were not only extant, but actively played?
I believe that some of the very early clarinets were made so that they
could be played either hand up, either by duplicating the lower pinky holes
and plugging the unwanted one with wax, or by having this hole in a
separate joint which could be rotated. The few keys were centered, so they
could be played with either hand. This does not, of course, answer the
question of why the choice was made to put the right hand on the lower
joint when such things became standardized. Maybe (I have no data) by
analogy with the flute, when the upper joint became asymmetrical and could
be blown only with the body of the flute extending to the right, then
(obviously) the right hand had to be the lower one.

George Kidder
Bar Harbor, ME

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