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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000263.txt from 2010/11

From: Jennifer Jones <>
Subj: [kl] What is a clarinet?
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2010 19:09:46 -0500

This is inspired by the identify the instrument thread of the past few
days that started out as a right-left inverted picture of an oehler
system clarinet taken from the side opposite the trill keys, that
turned into the taragato thread.

What is a clarinet?
I contend that it is a single reed instrument with a cylindrical bore
that overblows twelfths.

Some homework says:

a single-reed instrument with a straight tube

This is unsatisfying to my experience. Does the single-reed and
straight tube combination determine closed tube behavior?

Brymer writes a chapter-long love letter. While a nice an informative
read, does not help me much in determining whether my definition of a
clarinet is any good.

Pino suggests that I should modify my definition to accommodate the
slight constriction in the middle of the instrument: A clarinet is a
single reeded instrument that overblows a twelfth.

Many of these are nice, but don't seem very testable:

# The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The
name derives from adding the suffix -et (meaning little) to the
Italian word clarino (meaning a type of trumpet), as the first
clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. ...

# The piccolo clarinets are members of the clarinet family, smaller
and higher pitched than the more familiar high soprano clarinets in E
and D. None are common, but the most often used piccolo clarinet is
the A clarinet, sounding a minor seventh higher than the B clarinet.

# a woodwind musical instrument that has a distinctive liquid tone
whose characteristics vary among its three registers: chalumeau (low),
clarion (medium), and altissimo (high)

An oboe can sound liquid. The terms "chalumeau", "clarion" and
"altissimo" are arcane terminology. (correct me if there are other
instruments that use those terms). My understanding is that chalumeau
is used for the early clarinets produced by Denner. Clarion is
trumpet. Altissimo just means extremely high.

# the clarinet is a member of the woodwind family and comes in many
shapes and sizes. Read more

An oboe is a member of the woodwing family. How many shapes and sizes
does it come in? A "bass" double reed is a bassoon, there are english
horns... A flute is a member of the woodwind family. It comes as a
flute, a piccolo and as recorders. Recorders definitely comes in many
shapes and sizes.

# An imitative reed stop. Usually constructed with half-length
resonators, it is a successful imitation of its orchestral model. In
the German Romantic tradition it was made as a free reed.

This is interesting: half-length resonator. I guess it refers to a
pipe organ... Lelia?

# A member of the woodwind instrument family, with the following
stages of sound production:

# clarinets - are usually pitched in the key of B flat or A, although
there are other harmony clarinets in the keys of C, Eb, D, and Ab.

On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM, Jennifer Jones
<> wrote:
> Is it a single reed instrument and does it have a cylindrical bore and
> overblow twelfths?
> On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 7:28 AM, Fred <> wrote:
>> Can anyone tell me what the horn in the picture at the bottom of this page is?
>> It doesn't look like any form of a clarinet to me.
>> Fred

The mystery appears to be solved:

On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM, Martin Baxter <> wrote:
> On 13 Nov 2010, at 15:28, Fred wrote:
> Can anyone tell me what the horn in the picture at the bottom of this page is?
> It doesn't look like any form of a clarinet to me.
> Fred
> Looks like an Oehler system A to me.
> Martin
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