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 Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: ssterling 
Date:   2017-11-19 19:13

I've been working on a few pieces for an eight-piece clarinet choir I put together from members of the band, and aside from being performed by the ensemble, I'd like to (self-)publish them so other clarinet groups and sections can use it as well. However, the instrumentation is quite uncanny:

- 1 E-flat soprano
- 2 B-flat sopranos
- 1 E-flat alto
- 2 B-flat basses
- 1 E-flat contra-alto (or string bass)
- A percussionist

Most clarinet 'choir' arrangements I've seen are for three sopranos and a bass, yet I've seen university ensembles with upwards of twelve unique parts. It seems as if standard repertoire is for quartets and everything else is custom-arranged. With that being said, would the instrumentation pose an issue in having my piece being accepted by other groups?

Seth Price (Sabine Meyer wannabe)
ssterling@firemail.cc

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: Roxann 2017
Date:   2017-11-19 20:22

I think that this unique grouping could produce some unique harmonies. Go for it! I'd certainly love to have the arrangement, and I know the perfect folks to ask to play it!

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: marcia 
Date:   2017-11-20 09:46

This does not answer the question, but I have an octet arrangement of the St. Paul Suite.

1 Eb
4 Bb
1 alto
2 bass

The clarinet class at music camp read through it a couple of years ago. I think it worked quite well. Who needs all those stringy players? [wink]

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2017-11-20 14:42

It's been a while since I played in a clarinet choir but we had:

1 Eb (for some pieces - not all)
3 Bb parts
1 alto
1 bass
1 contra

no percussionist, but that would have been fun!

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: ssterling 
Date:   2017-11-20 20:29

Roxann wrote:
> I think that this unique grouping could produce some unique harmonies.
> Go for it! I'd certainly love to have the arrangement, and I know the
> perfect folks to ask to play it!

Ooo. In fact, if you'd like, I could attach the score and a synthesised output (from Sibelius) for Sleigh Ride. It's not a finalised version per se, but it's still pretty much there.

marcia wrote:
> This does not answer the question, but I have an octet arrangement
> of the St. Paul Suite.
>
> 1 Eb
> 4 Bb
> 1 alto
> 2 bass

In fact, that does. It gives me some insight onto other arrangers' instrumentation. Lowkey interested in that arrangement though. c:

sax panther wrote:
> It's been a while since I played in a clarinet choir but we had:
>
> 1 Eb (for some pieces - not all)
> 3 Bb parts
> 1 alto
> 1 bass
> 1 contra
>
> no percussionist, but that would have been fun!

Seems pretty similar to mine, actually. :p Percussion tends to add that extra little 'zing' when you've got something upbeat and heavy, imo.

Seth Price (Sabine Meyer wannabe)
ssterling@firemail.cc

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: johng 2017
Date:   2017-11-20 21:24

Seth, its looks like you will have a good balance for your group, part-wise. If you want other clarinet choirs to play your music, you might want to add alternate parts: Bb clarinet alternate for Eb soprano...it might be high but hopefully playable; alternate 3rd Bb for alto.....this would be good if there is no alto (pretty common) or if the alto player is a little weak. There are clarinet choirs, like the Zephyr Clarinet Choir I play in, that have 10 to 15 Bb clarinets, so spreading the Bb parts among 3 parts would be more satisfying than among 2 parts.

I should add that making the alternate parts can create some issues of range of the alternate instrument. With some pieces, it doesn't matter too much to have an octave difference, but on others there can be too many to suit the music. In some of my arrangements I have decided not to have alternate parts for that reason. It is up to you to make that judgement.

John Gibson, Founder of JB Linear Music, www.music4woodwinds.com

Post Edited (2017-11-21 04:17)

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: William Hughes 2017
Date:   2017-11-20 22:58

I play in two clarinet groups--one with the same instrumentation as listed by sax panther and a smaller group without the eefer or alto.

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 Re: Instrumentation for clarinet choir
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2017-11-22 05:54

My favorite example of a clarinet choir is Beth Custer's Clarinet Thing, a quartet. All the players double, which provides for different duo and trio possibilities that add variety to the arrangements.
https://bethcuster.com/ensembles/clarinet-thing/

Here you'll find some videos, and an excellent album:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=clarinet+thing

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