(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)
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The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B♭ clarinet, it is usually pitched in B♭ (meaning it is a transposing instrument on which a written C sounds as B♭), but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B♭ clarinet. Bass clarinets in other keys, notably C and A, also exist, but are very rare (in contrast to the regular A clarinet, which is quite common in classical music). Bass clarinets regularly perform in orchestras, wind ensembles/concert bands, occasionally in marching bands, and play an occasional solo role in contemporary music and jazz in particular.
Someone who plays a bass clarinet is called a bass clarinetist.
Most modern bass clarinets are straight-bodied, with a small upturned silver-colored metal bell and curved metal neck. Early examples varied in shape, some having a doubled body making them look similar to bassoons. The bass clarinet is fairly heavy and is supported either with a neck strap or an adjustable peg attached to its body. While Adolphe Sax imitated its upturned metal bell in his design of the larger saxophones, the two instruments are fundamentally different. Bass clarinet bodies are most often made of grenadilla (African Blackwood) or (more commonly for student-instruments) plastic resin, while saxophones are typically made of metal. (Metal bass clarinets exist,but are rare.) More significantly, all clarinets have a bore that is basically the same diameter along the body. This cylindrical bore differs from the saxophone's conical one and gives the clarinet its characteristic tone, causing it to overblow at the twelfth compared with the saxophone's octave.
A majority of modern bass clarinets, like other clarinets in the family, have the Boehm system of keys and fingering. However, bass clarinets are also manufactured in Germany with the Oehler system of keywork, which is most often known as the 'German" system in the US, because it is commonly used in Germany and Austria, as well as Eastern Europe and Turkey; bass clarinets produced with the Oehler system's predecessor, the Albert system, are still in use, particularly in these areas.[ citation needed ]
Most modern Boehm system bass clarinets have an "extension" key allowing them to play to the (written) E♭. This key was originally added to allow easy transposition of parts for the relatively rare bass clarinet pitched in A, but it now finds significant use in concert band and other literature. A significant difference between soprano and bass clarinet key work is a key pad played by the left-hand index finger with a vent that may be uncovered for certain high notes. This allows a form of "half-hole" fingering that allows notes in higher registers to be played on the instrument. In addition, older bass clarinets have two register keys, one for middle D♯ and below, the other for middle E and higher. Newer models typically have an automatic register key mechanism, where a single left thumb key commands the two vent holes. Depending on whether the right hand ring finger (used in fingerings for middle D♯ and below) is down or up, the lower or upper vent hole will open.
Many professional or advanced bass clarinet models extend down to a low C (sounding B♭, identical to the bassoon's lowest B♭), two octaves below written middle C. At concert pitch this note is the B♭ below the second ledger line below the bass staff or B♭1 in scientific pitch notation. These three lowermost half-steps are played via additional keys operated by the right thumb, some of them often duplicated in the left- or right-hand little-finger key clusters. Overall, the instrument sounds an octave lower than the B♭ soprano clarinet.
As with all wind instruments, the upper limit of the range depends on the quality of the instrument and skill of the clarinetist. According to Aber and Lerstad, who give fingerings up to written C7 (sounding B♭5), the highest note commonly encountered in modern solo literature is the E below that (sounding D5, the D above treble C). This gives the bass clarinet a usable range of up to four octaves, quite close to the range of the bassoon; indeed, many bass clarinetists perform works originally intended for bassoon or cello because of the plethora of literature for those two instruments and the scarcity of solo works for the bass clarinet.
The bass clarinet has been regularly used in scoring for orchestra and concert band since the mid-19th century, becoming more common during the middle and latter part of the 20th century.[ citation needed ] A bass clarinet is not always called for in orchestra music, but is almost always called for in concert band music. In recent years, the bass clarinet has also seen a growing repertoire of solo literature including compositions for the instrument alone, or accompanied by piano, orchestra, or other ensemble. It is also used in clarinet choirs, marching bands, and in film scoring, and has played a persistent role in jazz.
The bass clarinet has an appealing, rich, earthy tone quite distinct from other instruments in its range, drawing on and enhancing the qualities of the lower range of the soprano and alto instrument.
Perhaps the earliest solo passages for bass clarinet—indeed, among the earliest parts for the instrument—occur in Mercadante's 1834 opera Emma d'Antiochia, in which a lengthy solo introduces Emma's scene in Act 2. (Mercadante actually specified a glicibarifono for this part.) Two years later, Giacomo Meyerbeer wrote an important solo for bass clarinet in Act 4 of his opera Les Huguenots .
French composer Hector Berlioz was one of the first of the Romantics to use the bass clarinet in his large-scale works such as the Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale , Op. 15 (1840), the Te Deum , Op. 22 (1849), and the opera Les Troyens , Op. 29 (1863). Later French composers to use the instrument included Maurice Ravel, who wrote virtuosic parts for the bass clarinet in his ballet Daphnis et Chloé (1912), La valse (1920), and his orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (1924).
The operas of Richard Wagner also make extensive use of the bass clarinet, beginning with Tannhäuser (1845). He incorporated the instrument fully into the wind section as both a solo and supporting instrument. Wagner pioneered in exploiting the instrument's dark, somber tone to represent sadness and melancholy. Wagner was almost completely responsible for making the instrument a permanent member of the opera orchestra. The instrument plays an extensive role in Tristan und Isolde (1859), the operas of Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876), and Parsifal (1882).
Also around this time, Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt wrote important parts for the instrument in his symphonic poems Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne (What One Hears on the Mountain), Tasso, and his Dante Symphony . Giuseppe Verdi followed suit, using it in Aida (1870), La forza del destino , Don Carlo and Falstaff . Following in Verdi's footsteps, Giacomo Puccini, composer of La Bohème , Tosca and Madame Butterfly , used the bass clarinet in all of his operas, beginning with Edgar in 1889. The Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote some prominent solos for the instrument in his last ballet, The Nutcracker .
The later Romantics used the bass clarinet frequently in their works. All of Gustav Mahler's symphonies include the instrument prominently, and often contain lengthy solos for the instrument, especially in his Symphony No. 6 in A minor. Richard Strauss wrote for the instrument in all of his symphonic poems except for Don Juan , and the instrument shared the spotlight with the tenor tuba in his 1898 tone poem, Don Quixote , Op. 35. Strauss wrote for the instrument as he did for the smaller clarinets, and the parts often include playing in very high registers, such as in Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30.
Composers of the Second Viennese School, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg, often favored the instrument over the bassoon, the instrument's closest relative in terms of range. Russian composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev used the low concert C and B♭ (equivalent to the bassoon's lowest two notes) in many of their compositions and an instrument with the extended range is necessary for works such as Shostakovich's Symphonies Nos. 4, 7, 8, and 11, and Leoš Janáček's Sinfonietta. All of these works exploit the instrument's dark, powerful lower range.
Prokofiev wrote parts for the instrument in his Symphonies Nos. 2–7 and in his ballet Romeo and Juliet. Sergei Rachmaninoff used the instrument to great effect in his Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 and in his symphonic poem, Isle of The Dead . Igor Stravinsky also wrote complex parts for the instrument throughout his career, most prominently in his ballets The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913).
The bass clarinet has a solo at the opening of the third movement of Ferde Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite.
In the duet "A Boy Like That" from West Side Story (1957), Leonard Bernstein scored for "the inky sounds of three bass clarinets".
Early minimalist Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians (1976) calls for two bass clarinets, featured prominently in the lower register. Used almost percussively, the effect of deep, staccato repetitions, played beneath a static rhythmic drone, is to create a feeling of slowly fluctuating cycles.[ citation needed ]
Many modern composers employ the bass along with the contra-alto and contrabass clarinets, such as Esa-Pekka Salonen in his Piano Concerto. A great amount of literature can be found in the wind ensemble, in which there is always a part for the instrument.[ citation needed ]
There are a few major solo pieces for bass clarinet, including:
There is a limited chamber repertoire for bass clarinet and other instruments, notably Leoš Janáček's suite Mládí (Youth), and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Kontra-Punkte .
It was not until the 1950s that classical performers began to adopt the bass clarinet as their primary instrument. The pioneer was the Czech performer Josef Horák (1931–2005), who is credited as having performed the first ever solo bass clarinet recital on March 23, 1955.This marked a turning point when the instrument first became thought of as a soloist's instrument.
Because the repertoire of solo music for the bass clarinet was quite small, most bass clarinet soloists specialize in new music, while also arranging works composed for other instruments from earlier eras (such as the Bach Cello Suites). Beginning with Horák, many players have commissioned works for the instrument, and consequently there now exists a repertoire of hundreds of solo works, many by prominent international composers such as Brian Ferneyhough and David Lang. In addition to Horák, other specialist performers include Henri Bok (Netherlands), his student Luís Afonso (Brazil), Dennis Smylie (United States), Tommie Lundberg (Sweden), Harry Sparnaay (Netherlands, who has worked with important composers such as Luciano Berio, Iannis Xenakis, and Morton Feldman), Jason Alder, Evan Ziporyn (United States), and Michael Lowenstern (United States); the latter two are also composers.
In October 2005, the First World Bass Clarinet Convention was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, at which Horák was the guest of honor and played in one of the many concerts given by the leading bass clarinetists from around the world (including all the aforementioned performers, as well as many others).
At least two professional bass-clarinet quartets exist. Rocco Parisi's Bass Clarinet Quartet is an Italian group whose repertoire includes transcriptions of music by Rossini, Paganini, and Piazzolla. Edmund Welles is the name of a bass clarinet quartet based in San Francisco. Their repertoire includes original "heavy chamber music" and transcriptions of madrigals, boogie-woogie tunes, and heavy metal songs. Two of the members of Edmund Welles also perform as a bass clarinet duo, Sqwonk.
While the bass clarinet was seldom heard in early jazz compositions, a bass clarinet solo by Wilbur Sweatman can be heard on his 1924 recording "Battleship Kate" and a bass clarinet solo by Omer Simeon can be heard in the 1926 recording "Someday Sweetheart" by Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers. Additionally, Benny Goodman recorded with the instrument a few times early in his career.
Harry Carney, Duke Ellington's baritone saxophonist for 47 years, played bass clarinet in some of Ellington's arrangements, first recording with it on "Saddest Tale" in 1934. He was featured soloist on many Ellington recordings, including 27 titles on bass clarinet.
The first jazz album on which the leader solely played bass clarinet was Great Ideas of Western Mann (1957) by Herbie Mann, better known as a flautist. However, avant-garde musician Eric Dolphy (1928–1964) was the first major jazz soloist on the instrument, and established much of the vocabulary and technique used by later performers. He used the entire range of the instrument in his solos. Bennie Maupin emerged in the late 1960s as a primary player of the instrument, playing on Miles Davis's seminal record Bitches Brew as well as several records with Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi group. His style resembles Dolphy's in its use of advanced harmonies.
While the bass clarinet has been used often since Dolphy, it is typically used by a saxophonist or clarinetist as a second or third instrument; such musicians include David Murray, Marcus Miller, John Surman, John Gilmore, Bob Mintzer, John Coltrane (to whom Dolphy's mother left some of Dolphy's instruments including his bass clarinet),[ citation needed ] Brian Landrus, James Carter, Steve Buckley, Andy Biskin, Don Byron, Julian Siegel, Gunter Hampel, Michel Portal, Myron Walden, and Chris Potter. Very few performers have used the instrument exclusively, but such performers include Berlin-based bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall, and French bass clarinetists Louis Sclavis and Denis Colin. Klezmer clarinetist Giora Feidman is known for idiosyncratic use of the bass clarinet on some klezmer and jazz tunes.
There are several instruments that can arguably be considered the first bass clarinet. Probably the earliest is a dulcian-shaped instrument in the Museum Carolino Augusteum in Salzburg. It is incomplete, lacking a crook or mouthpiece, and appears to date from the first half of the eighteenth century. Its wide cylindrical bore and its fingering suggest it was a chalumeau or clarinet in the bass range.Four anonymous bass chalumeaux or clarinets apparently dating from the eighteenth century and having from one to six keys also appear to be among the earliest examples, and one in particular has been suggested to date from before 1750. However, the authenticity of at least one of these instruments has been questioned.
In the Munich Stadtmuseum there is an instrument made c. 1770 by the Mayrhofers of Passau, ♭. Whether this should be considered a low basset horn or a bass clarinet is a matter of opinion. In any case, no further work along this line is known to have been done.who are often credited with the invention of the basset horn. It resembles early sickle-shaped basset horns, but has a larger bore and is longer, playing in low B
A 1772 newspaper article describes an instrument called the "basse-tube", invented by G. Lott in Paris in 1772.This instrument has not survived and very little is known of it. The article has frequently been cited as the earliest record of a bass clarinet, but it has more recently been suggested that the basse-tube was in fact a basset horn.
The Klarinetten-Bass by Heinrich Grenser, c. 1793, had a folded, bassoon-like shape and an extended range, and was presumably intended to serve as a bassoon replacement in military bands. Desfontenelles of Lisieux built a bass clarinet in 1807 whose shape was similar to that of the later saxophone. It had thirteen keys, at a time when most soprano clarinets had fewer.
Additional designs were developed by many other makers, including Dumas of Sommières (who called his instrument a "Basse guerrière") in 1807; Nicola Papalini, c. 1810 (an odd design, in the form of a serpentine series of curves, carved out of wood); George Catlin of Hartford, Connecticut ("clarion") c. 1810; Sautermeister of Lyons ("Basse-orgue") in 1812; Gottlieb Streitwolf in 1828; and Catterino Catterini ("glicibarifono") in the 1830s.These last four, and several others of the same period, had bassoon-like folded shapes, and most had extended ranges. A straight-bodied instrument without extended range was produced in 1832 by Isaac Dacosta and Auguste Buffet.
Finally, Adolphe Sax, a Belgian manufacturer of musical instruments, designed a straight-bodied form of the bass clarinet in 1838. Sax's expertise in acoustics led him to include such features as accurately-placed, large tone holes and a second register hole. His instrument achieved great success and became the basis for all bass clarinet designs since.
The instrument on which Anton Stadler first played Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's clarinet concerto was originally called a Bass-Klarinette, but was not a bass clarinet in the modern sense; since the late eighteenth century this instrument has been called a basset clarinet.
Orchestral music for bass clarinet is written using one of four systems:
Music is occasionally encountered written for the bass clarinet in A, e.g. in Wagner operas, and Mahler or Rachmaninov symphonies; this music also tends to be written in bass clef although not invariably (e.g. Ravel's La Valse ). Apparently, bass clarinets in A were once produced by German and French makers, even though the historic record is not particularly clear just where and when such production started and ceased.[ citation needed ] Since instruments pitched in A were not available to play music that had already been written, bass clarinets produced after 1900 were equipped with the low E♭ extension key to allow easy transposition of such parts.
Until the last half of the 20th century, no new bass clarinets pitched in A were produced. For a brief period starting in the late 1970s, a bass clarinet with Boehm style keywork and pitched in A (and keyed to low E♭, even though the original parts seldom descend below written low E) was again produced by Selmer Paris. While perfectly functional, such instruments were both expensive and a significant physical burden to the player, who would have to carry two heavy bass clarinets to rehearsals and performances. For these two reasons more than anything else, few modern bass clarinets in A have been sold. At some point after the 1980s, Selmer ceased production of the bass clarinet in A, although examples are still available from factory stock.[ citation needed ]
Very few modern players own a bass clarinet in A; these parts are therefore played on the B♭ instrument, transposing them down a semitone.
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which has a tenor and bass sound. It is composed of six pieces, and is usually made of wood or synthetic plastic. It is known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, versatility, and virtuosity. It is a non-transposing instrument and typically its music is written in the bass and tenor clefs, and sometimes in the treble. There are two forms of modern bassoon: the Buffet and Heckel systems. It is typically played while sitting using a seat strap, but can be played while standing if the player has a harness to hold the instrument. Sound is produced by rolling both lips over the reed and blowing direct air pressure to cause the reed to vibrate. Its fingering system can be quite complex when compared to those of other instruments. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band, and chamber music literature, and is occasionally heard in pop, rock, and jazz settings as well. One who plays a bassoon is called a bassoonist.
The clarinet is a family of woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist.
The oboe is a type of double reed woodwind instrument. Oboes are usually made of wood, but may also be made of synthetic materials, such as plastic, resin or hybrid composites. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. A soprano oboe measures roughly 65 cm long, with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. Sound is produced by blowing into the reed at a sufficient air pressure, causing it to vibrate with the air column. The distinctive tone is versatile and has been described as "bright". When the word oboe is used alone, it is generally taken to mean the treble instrument rather than other instruments of the family, such as the bass oboe, the cor anglais, or oboe d'amore.
The saxophone is a type of single-reed woodwind instrument with a conical body, usually made of brass. As with all single-reed instruments, sound is produced when a cane reed on a mouthpiece vibrates to produce a sound wave inside the instrument's body. The pitch is controlled by opening and closing holes in the body to change the effective length of the tube. The holes are closed by leather pads attached to keys operated by the player. Saxophones are made in various sizes and are almost always treated as transposing instruments. Saxophone players are called saxophonists.
A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate which notes are represented by the lines and spaces on a musical stave. When a clef is placed on a stave it assigns a particular note to one of the five lines. This line becomes a reference point by which the names of the other notes on the stave are determined.
A transposing instrument is a musical instrument for which music notation is not written at concert pitch. For example, playing a written middle C on a transposing instrument produces a pitch other than middle C; that sounding pitch identifies the interval of transposition when describing the instrument. Playing a written C on clarinet or soprano saxophone produces a concert B♭, so these are referred to as B♭ instruments. Providing transposed music for these instruments is a convention of musical notation. The instruments do not transpose the music, rather their music is written at a transposed pitch.
The cor anglais, or English horn in North America, is a double-reed woodwind instrument in the oboe family. It is approximately one and a half times the length of an oboe.
The sarrusophones are a family of transposing woodwind musical instruments patented and placed into production by Pierre-Louis Gautrot in 1856. Originally designed as double-reed instruments, sarrusophones were later developed that used single-reed mouthpieces, at least for some of the larger sizes. It was named after the French bandmaster Pierre-Auguste Sarrus (1813–1876), who is credited with the concept of the instrument, though it is not clear whether Sarrus benefited financially from this association. The instrument was intended to serve as a replacement in wind bands for the oboe and bassoon, which, at that time, lacked the carrying power required for outdoor band music.
The contrabassoon, also known as the double bassoon, is a larger version of the bassoon, sounding an octave lower. Its technique is similar to its smaller cousin, with a few notable differences.
The basset horn is a member of the clarinet family of musical instruments.
The basset clarinet is member of the clarinet family similar to the usual soprano clarinet but longer and with additional keys to enable playing several additional lower notes. Typically a basset clarinet has keywork going to a low (written) C or B, as opposed to the standard clarinet's E or E♭. The basset clarinet is most commonly a transposing instrument in A, although basset clarinets in C and B♭ and very seldom in G also exist. The similarly named basset horn is also a clarinet with extended lower range, but is in a lower pitch ; the basset horn predates, and undoubtedly inspired, the basset clarinet.
The contrabass clarinet and contra-alto clarinet are the two largest members of the clarinet family that are in common usage. Modern contrabass clarinets are pitched in B♭, sounding two octaves lower than the common B♭ soprano clarinet and one octave lower than the B♭ bass clarinet. Some contrabass clarinet models have a range extending down to low (written) E♭, while others can play down to low D or further to low C. This range, C(3) – E(6), sounds B♭(0) – D(4). Some early instruments were pitched in C; Arnold Schoenberg's Fünf Orchesterstücke specifies a contrabass clarinet in A, but there is no evidence of such an instrument ever having existed.
Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, was written in October 1791 for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. It consists of three movements, in a fast–slow–fast succession:
The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor and the alto are the two most commonly used saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key of B♭ (while the alto is pitched in the key of E♭), and written as a transposing instrument in the treble clef, sounding an octave and a major second lower than the written pitch. Modern tenor saxophones which have a high F♯ key have a range from A♭2 to E5 (concert) and are therefore pitched one octave below the soprano saxophone. People who play the tenor saxophone are known as "tenor saxophonists", "tenor sax players", or "saxophonists".
The bass oboe or baritone oboe is a double reed instrument in the woodwind family. It is about twice the size of a regular (soprano) oboe and sounds an octave lower; it has a deep, full tone somewhat akin to that of its higher-pitched cousin, the English horn. The bass oboe is notated in the treble clef, sounding one octave lower than written. Its lowest note is B2 (in scientific pitch notation), one octave and a semitone below middle C, although an extension may be inserted between the lower joint and bell of the instrument in order to produce a low B♭2. The instrument's bocal or crook first curves away from and then toward the player (unlike the bocal/crook of the English horn and oboe d'amore), looking rather like a flattened metal question mark; another crook design resembles the shape of a bass clarinet neckpiece. The bass oboe uses its own double reed, similar to but larger than that of the English horn.
The alto clarinet is a woodwind instrument of the clarinet family. It is a transposing instrument pitched in the key of E♭, though instruments in F have been made. In size it lies between the soprano clarinet and the bass clarinet. It bears a greater resemblance to the bass clarinet in that it typically has a straight body, but a curved neck and bell made of metal. All-metal alto clarinets also exist. In appearance it strongly resembles the basset horn, but usually differs in three respects: it is pitched a whole step lower, it lacks an extended lower range, and it has a wider bore than many basset horns.
The E-flat clarinet is a member of the clarinet family, smaller than the more common B♭ clarinet and pitched a perfect fourth higher. It is typically considered the sopranino or piccolo member of the clarinet family and is a transposing instrument in E♭ with a sounding pitch a minor third higher than written. In Italian it is sometimes referred to as a terzino and is generally listed in B♭-based scores as terzino in Mi♭. The E-flat clarinet has a total length of about 49 cm.
The tenor bassoon or tenoroon is a member of the bassoon family of double reed woodwind instruments. Similarly to the alto bassoon, also called octave bassoon, it is relatively rare.
The clarinet family is a musical instrument family including the well-known B♭ clarinet, the bass clarinet, the slightly less familiar E♭ and A clarinets and other clarinets.
The euphonium repertoire consists of solo literature and parts in band or, less commonly, orchestral music written for the euphonium. Since its invention in 1843, the euphonium has always had an important role in ensembles, but solo literature was slow to appear, consisting of only a handful of lighter solos until the 1960s. Since then, however, the breadth and depth of the solo euphonium repertoire has increased dramatically.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bass Clarinet .|