Clarinet is a single-reed, straight cylindrical tube woodwind instrument. It has a single-reed mouthpiece. The body or the cylindrical tube has a number of Tone Holes and set of keys controlling the sound produced. Clarinets are used orchestrally and in military and brass bands. Clarinet was invented in the 18th century by Johann Christoph Denner, a renowned woodwind maker in Nurnberg – South Germany.
The tube or body of the Clarinet is made of different materials like wood, plastic, hard rubber, metal resin etc. Majority of the Professional Clarinets are made of African Hardwood, African Blackwood or Grenadilla.
Mouthpieces are normally made of Hard Rubber but there are inexpensive plastic ones as well. The Reed of the Clarinet is made of Cane of Arundo Donax which is a type of grass. Synthetic Reeds are also available. A device called as Ligature holds the Reed on to the mouthpiece of the single-reed instruments like Clarinet. Ligatures are made of metal and plated with nickel, silver or gold. Air is blown through the opening between the reed and the mouthpiece. The vibrations produced by the reed creates the sound from the Clarinet.
Components of Clarinet
Most of the Clarinets have the following, similar components.
- Reed and Mouthpiece – at the underside of the mouthpiece, pressing against the player’s lower lip
- Barrel – a short barrel, for finetune the Clarinet’s sound. The pitch of Clarinet is temperature sensitive. Pitch compensation for variation of pitch and tuning is made by pulling out the barrel. This increases the length of the instrument
- Upper and Lower Joints – the Upper Joint has most of the holes and keys on it operated by left hand. The holes and keys on the Lower Joint are operated by right hand (Trill Keys).
- Tone Holes – helping the player to produce every note of the chromatic scale. Seven of these (six on the front and one back) are covered with fingertips and rest are opened or closed using set of keys
- Bell – the flared end of the Clarinet is known as bell. The bell improves the uniformity of the instrument’s tone for the lowest notes in each register
Let us now watch a small video on basic Clarinet Lesson.