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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000465.txt from 2005/05

From: "dnleeson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Bb versus C Clarinet?
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 22:21:35 -0400

Your questions fall into two broad categories. One is historical
about the evolution of the C and B-flat clarinets, while the
other questions deal with issues related to quality of instrument
manufacture. For example you ask if the C is likely to be out of
tune, and the answer to that question is a function of the

The development of the family of clarinets, the C, B-flat, A, and
others now generally considered obsolete, was due originally to
the inability of the clarinet to play in keys other than C and F.
So as long as those keys were used, the C clarinet was fine for
the job. But if the composer wanted to write in B-flat or
E-flat, the clarinet change was made to the B-flat clarinet which
allowed it to continue to play in written C and F, even though
music was written in other keys. Same thing for the key of A and
D. The A clarinet was used and it played in written C and F.
And that's that.

The problem is unique to the clarinet family. No other woodwind
instrument has this peculiarity.

As for the other questions, C clarinets are made very expertly
today. Try one.

Dan Leeson

-----Original Message-----
From: willy kostucki []
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:18 PM
Subject: [kl] Bb versus C Clarinet?


Can someone explain to me the real "advantages" of the Bb
compared to
the C clarinet?
Some questions:
-Historically spoken is the Bb anterior or posterior to the C? Do
need to consider the Bb an evolution or an improvement of the C?
-The C clarinet allows one to play the "real" notes and not notes
that are one whole tone of difference with the non-transposing
instruments. Isn't this an "advantage"?
-Is the fingering system easier on a Bb than on a C for the usual
scales in west music?
-Why do so few clarinetists play on Bb (beside the fact most of
classical pieces are writen for Bb).
-Is the C clarinet more likely to be out of tune than a Bb
because of
construction differences (smaller)?
-Why is most classical music writen for Bb and not for C?
-Who buy today a C clarinet and for what purpose?
-Other comments welcome.

Thanks forwards,

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