pixel









current page:

specs.htm


/NOTE: From the site's update on 15.1.2007 onwards, this particular site will not be updated anymore, so for the current variant with the fresh content, please head on to: clarinet.50webs.com, which is, as mentioned, the only one still being updated, and the only one that'll be updated also in the future.


GeoURL Reverse Directory
----
XFN Friendly
----
Valid XHTML 1.0
----
Valid CSS
If you own a web-site, I recommend you to create an account at Bravenet to get various FREE site tools/services (such as Counter, Guestbook etc., here's a full list: affiliate.htm); and if you decide you will, then please do register it "through" my affiliate program's banner above.



sponsored links


Valid XHTML
----
Valid CSS

validate
css, xhtml




This page deals with the various clarinets' "specifications" or its "characteristics", in other words with its construction in general. The next one that follows this one is also a related one, in particular the page named specs.htm.





SITE NAVIGATION: index.htm ... initial.htm ... range.htm ... specs.htm ... sound.htm ... history.htm ... about.htm ... links.htm ... picture.htm





Nowadays, the professional clarinets are made from the African hard-wood (often the one called "grenadilla"), and rarely of a Honduran rose-wood (and sometimes even "cocobolo") because of diminishing supplies. Historically other woods, notably boxwood, were used. One major manufacturer makes professional clarinets from a composite mixture of plastic resin and wood chips. Instruments like that are less affected by humidity, but are heavier than the equivalent wood instrument. Student instruments are sometimes made of composite or plastic resin, commonly "resonite", an ABS resin. Metal soprano clarinets were popular in the early twentieth century, until plastic instruments supplanted them; metal construction is still used for some contra-alto and contrabass clarinets. Mouthpieces are generally made of ebonite, although some inexpensive mouthpieces may be made of plastic. The instrument uses a single reed made from the cane of arundo donax, a type of grass. Reeds may also be manufactured from synthetic materials. The ligature fastens the reed to the mouthpiece. When air is blown through the opening between the reed and the mouthpiece facing, the reed vibrates and produces the instrument's sound.

Clarinetists used to make their own reeds. Now most buy manufactured reeds, but many players make adjustments to these reeds to improve playability. Clarinet reeds come in varying "strengths" generally described from "soft" to "hard." The most common scale is a 1-5 system with most manufacturers having slight differences in their own systems. It is important to note that there is no standardized system of designating reed strength. Beginning clarinetists are often encouraged to use softer reeds, usually a 2 to 2 1/2. Jazz clarinetists often remain on softer reeds, as they are easy for bending pitch. Most classical musicians work towards harder reed strengths as their embouchures strengthen. The benefit of a harder reed is a sturdy, round tone. The major manufacturers of clarinet reeds include the Vandoren company (France), Gonzalez and Zonda (both manufactured from the same cane in Argentina), Legere, Mitchell Lurie and many others. However it should be noted that the strength of the reed is only one factor in the player's set-up; the "tip-opening" and "lay" of the mouthpiece are other critical factors.

The parts that make up a clarinet are the following:

- The reed is attached to the mouthpiece by the ligature and the top half-inch or so of this assembly is held in the player's mouth. The formation of the mouth around the mouthpiece and reed is called the embouchure. The reed is on the underside of the mouthpiece pressing against the player's bottom lip, while the top teeth normally contact the top of the mouthpiece, while some players roll the upper lip under the top teeth to form what is called a "double-lip" embouchure. Adjustments in strength and configuration of the embouchure change the tone and intonation tuning.

- The short barrel is a part of the instrument may be extended in order to fine-tune the clarinet. As the pitch of the clarinet is fairly temperature sensitive some instruments have interchangeable barrels whose lengths vary very slightly. Additional compensation for pitch variation and tuning can be made by increasing the length of the instrument by pulling out the barrel. Some performers employ a single, synthetic barrel with a thumbwheel that enables the barrel length to be altered on the fly.

- The main body of the clarinet is divided into the upper joint whose holes and most keys are operated by the left hand, and the lower joint (this applies to most soprano clarinets, and some harmony clarinets) with holes and most keys operated by the right hand. The left thumb operates both a tone hole and the register key. The cluster of keys in the middle of the illustration are known as the trill keys and are operated by the right hand. These give the player alternative fingerings which make it easy to play ornaments and trills that would otherwise be awkward. The entire weight of the smaller clarinets is supported by the right thumb behind the lower joint on what is misleadingly called the thumb-rest. Alto and larger clarinets are supported with a neck strap or a floor peg.

- The flared end is known as the bell and contrary to the popular belief it does not amplify the sound but rather improves the uniformity of the instrument's tone for the lowest notes in each register. For the other notes the sound is produced almost entirely at the tone holes and the bell is irrelevant. As a result, when playing to a microphone, the best tone can be recorded by placing the microphone not at the bell but a little way from the finger-holes of the instrument. This relates to the position of the instrument when playing to an audience: pointing down at the floor, except in the most vibrant parts of certain styles of music and when called for specifically by the composer in the music; for example, in the music of Gustav Mahler.

The body is equipped with seven tone holes (six front, one back) and a complicated set of keys which allow every note of the chromatic scale to be produced. The most common system of keys was named the Boehm System by its designer Hyacinthe Klosť in honour of the flute designer Theobald Boehm, but is not the same as the Boehm System used on flutes. The other main system of keys is called the Oehler system and is used mostly in Germany and Austria. Related is the Albert system used by some jazz, klezmer, and eastern European folk musicians. The Albert and Oehler systems are both based on the earlier Mueller system. The hollow bore inside the instrument has a basically cylindrical shape, being roughly the same diameter for most of the length of the tube. There is a subtle hourglass shape, with its thinnest part at the junction between the upper and lower joint. This hourglass figure is not visible to the naked eye, but helps in the resonance of the sound. The diameter of the bore affects characteristics such as the stability of the pitch of a given note, or, conversely, the ability with which a note can be "bent" in the manner required in jazz and other styles of music. The bell is at the bottom of the instrument and flares out to improve the tone of the lowest notes. A clarinetist moves between registers through use of the register key, or speaker key.

And finally, a bit information about the required maintenance. I strongly suggest that before you play: When possible, avoid touching the keys when you are putting your clarinet together. When joining the upper and lower joints, you must press the rings of the top joint. Do this carefully so you do not bend any keys. the joints of the clarinet should twist together easily. If you have any difficulty, grease each of the tenon corks. In regards to clarinet tuning and playing: the clarinet is tuned by adjusting the length of the instrument. To lower the pitch, lengthen the instrument by pulling the barrel out slightly, leaving a small gap between the barrel and the upper joint. To raise the pitch, push the barrel in (and young players may also need to firm up their embouchure). Lower register notes can be tuned by pulling out or pushing in between the lower and upper joints. And finally regarding the cleaning of a clarinet: any moisture left in the clarinet after playing with cause pads to deteriorate. Swab the inside of the clarinet after playing. Use a cloth to wipe off moisture and finger marks. Remove the reed from the mouthpiece and place it in a reed guard. This will extend the life of the reed. Swab out the mouthpiece. Under each key is a pad that seals the tone hole when the key closes. If pads stick, they are dirty. So to clean the pads, place a clean cloth (or dollar bill) under the pad, close the key, and pull the cloth through.








SITE NAVIGATION: index.htm ... initial.htm ... range.htm ... specs.htm ... sound.htm ... history.htm ... about.htm ... links.htm ... picture.htm






Copyright © Ivan Tadej Kandus. Some Rights Reserved.


Disclaimer: The technical information on this site is mostly gathered from the Internet, mainly from the article on Wikipedia (I modified the text a bit though, to suite my needs), and so it is is available/distributed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; here are also two alternative direct links to a "licnse page" on the GNU site: GNU Copyleft/GNU GPL. But anyway, for one to write an article (or anything similar for that matter), one needs to get that knowledge/information somewhere, so in my opinion the "originality" of something is a bit relative thing. The expressed opinions and events are mine, and are freely distributed for NON-PROFIT use (personal/individual, end-user, educational, charitable, non-commercial and non-military purposes), or belong to other individuals/entities where so specified (that is to come in future); trademarks, service marks, and logos are the property of their respective owners, who have no association with and do not make any endorsement of the products or services provided by this site.


All the pages on this site are labeled with the ICRA label.  ICRA label
The site is maintained solely by its author and is best viewed with a standards-compliant browser.


Google PageRank by Scriptme
----
Creative Commons License
----
Geo Visitors Map
----
Spam Poison Community
Here below are my various affiliate/referral links to other accounts and/or services where I am a member: Senserely Referral Link, writingUp Refering Link, Spread Firefox Affiliate Link, TrafficSwarm Referral URL, Bravenet Affiliate Link, FreeViral Affiliate Link, Hits2u Affiliate Link, Ax.wbasi Referral Link.GreatNews RSS Reader
----
Alternative Browser Alliance
----
Get Firefox
----
Get Thunderbird










pixel