E-flat clarinet

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E clarinet
BC1550 Tosca Mib.jpg
E clarinet with Boehm System keywork.
Woodwind instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 422.211.2
(Single reed instruments – with fingerholes)
Playing range
Written range:
Clarinet range.svg
Related instruments

The E-flat (E) 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 (including many European band scores) as terzino in Mi♭. The E-flat clarinet has a total length of about 49 cm. [1]


The E clarinet is used in orchestras, concert bands, and marching bands, and plays a central role in clarinet choirs, carrying melodies that would be uncomfortably high for the B clarinet. Solo repertoire is limited, but composers from Berlioz to Mahler have used it extensively as a solo instrument in orchestral contexts.

Tonal range

Many orchestration and instrumentation books give a smaller tonal range (E3 to G6) for the E-flat clarinet compared to normal clarinets in A or B (E3-C7). [2]

Use in concert and military bands

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the clarinet in high F took this role until the E clarinet took over beginning sometime in the second decade of the 1800s. [3]

Although the E is somewhat of a rarity in school bands, it is a staple instrument in college and other upper level ensembles. Unlike the B soprano clarinet which has numerous musicians performing on each part, the E clarinet part is usually played by only one musician in a typical concert band. This is partially because the E clarinet has a bright, shrill sound similar to the sound of the piccolo. It commonly plays the role of a garnish instrument along with the piccolo, and duo segments between the two instruments are quite common. The E clarinet is often heard playing along with the flutes and/or oboes.

Important soloistic parts in standard band repertoire for the E clarinet include the second movement of Gustav Holst's First Suite in E-flat for Military Band (for two E clarinets) and his piece "Hammersmith" (also for two E clarinets), Paul Hindemith's Symphony in B-flat for Band , and Gordon Jacob's William Byrd Suite. The E clarinet is also a featured player in modern wind band repertoire, such as Adam Gorb's Yiddish Dances, where it takes on a solo role for much of the five-movement piece. [4]

Use as children's clarinet

While most E clarinets are built and marketed for professionals or advanced students, inexpensive plastic E clarinets have been produced for beginning children's use. These have a simplified fingering system, lacking some of the trill keys and alternative fingerings.

D clarinet

The slightly larger D clarinet is rare, although it was common in the early and mid-eighteenth century (see the Molter concertos below). From the end of that century to the present it has become less common than the clarinets in E, B, A, or even C. Handel’s Overture in D major for two clarinets and horn was probably written for two D clarinets. [3] D clarinets were once commonly employed by some composers (e.g., Rimsky-Korsakov's Mlada) to be used by one player equipped with instruments in D and E — analogous to a player using instruments in B and A. [3] In modern performance (especially in North America and western Europe outside German-speaking countries), it is normal to transpose D clarinet parts for E clarinet. [3]

The rationale underlying a composer's choice between E and D clarinet is often difficult to discern and can seem perverse, especially when the option not chosen would be easier for the player to execute. For instance, the original version of Arnold Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1 is for E clarinet while the orchestral version is for D. [3] Certain passages of Maurice Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe are set in concert D but are scored for E clarinet, with the effect that some fingerings in those passages are extremely difficult on the E-flat clarinet, which is forced to play in its B major, but would be much easier on a D clarinet, which would play in its C major. Another famous example is the D clarinet part of Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche .

Solo and chamber literature for the E (or D) clarinet

Size comparison: clarinets in A-flat, E-flat and B-flat E-flat A-flat B-flat clarinets.jpg
Size comparison: clarinets in A-flat, E-flat and B-flat

Solo works for these instruments are relatively rare however steadily increasing in number.

Orchestral and operatic music using the E (or D) clarinet

Parts written for D clarinet are usually played on the more popular E clarinet, with the player transposing or playing from a written part transposed a semitone lower.

Orchestral compositions and operas with notable E or D clarinet solos include:

Other orchestral compositions and operas making extensive use of E or D clarinet include:

Recent usage

After 1950, works using E clarinet are too numerous to note individually. However, among those where the instrument is featured beyond what would be considered normal in recent music are John Adams's Chamber Symphony , where two players play E and bass clarinet and "double" on soprano and Adriana Hölszky's A due for two E clarinets. The extended techniques of the B clarinet, including multiphonics, flutter tonguing, and extreme registers, have all been imported to the E.

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In music, an arrangement is a musical adaptation of an existing composition. Differences from the original composition may include reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or formal development. Arranging differs from orchestration in that the latter process is limited to the assignment of notes to instruments for performance by an orchestra, concert band, or other musical ensemble. Arranging "involves adding compositional techniques, such as new thematic material for introductions, transitions, or modulations, and endings. Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety". In jazz, a memorized (unwritten) arrangement of a new or pre-existing composition is known as a head arrangement.

Bassoon Double-reed woodwind instrument

The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which plays in the tenor and bass ranges. It is composed of six pieces, and is usually made of wood. 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.

Clarinet Single-reed woodwind instrument

The clarinet is a type of single-reed woodwind instrument. Like many wind instruments, clarinets are made in several different sizes, each having its own range of pitches. All have a nearly-cylindrical bore and a flared bell, and utilize a mouthpiece with a single reed. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist.

Tuba Brass instrument

The tuba is the lowest-pitched musical instrument in the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by lip vibration – a buzz – into a mouthpiece. It first appeared in the mid-19th century, making it one of the newer instruments in the modern orchestra and concert band. The tuba largely replaced the ophicleide. Tuba is Latin for "trumpet".

Orchestration Study or practice of writing music for an orchestra

Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting music composed for another medium for an orchestra. Also called "instrumentation", orchestration is the assignment of different instruments to play the different parts of a musical work. For example, a work for solo piano could be adapted and orchestrated so that an orchestra could perform the piece, or a concert band piece could be orchestrated for a symphony orchestra.

Transposing instrument Musical instrument for which notated pitch differs from sounding pitch

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. Where chords are indicated for improvisation they are also written in the appropriate transposed form.

Cor anglais Woodwind musical instrument

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, making it essentially an alto oboe in F.


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.

Bass clarinet Member of the clarinet family

The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in 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. Bass clarinets regularly perform in orchestras, wind ensembles and concert bands, and occasionally in marching bands, and play an occasional solo role in contemporary music and jazz in particular.

Contrabass clarinet Very low pitched instrument of the clarinet family

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), see the table on the right. 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.

Alto saxophone Type of saxophone

The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax, is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments. Invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s and patented in 1846, it is pitched in E, smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano. It is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in popular music, concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, military bands, marching bands, pep bands, and jazz. The fingerings of the different saxophones are all the same, so a saxophone player can play any type of saxophone.

Contra-alto clarinet Low pitched instrument

The contra-alto clarinet or E♭ contrabass clarinet is a large clarinet pitched a perfect fifth below the B♭ bass clarinet. It is a transposing instrument in E♭ sounding an octave and a major sixth below its written pitch. As it is pitched between the bass clarinet and the B♭ contrabass clarinet, the contra-alto clarinet is the great bass member of the clarinet family.

D major Major key and scale based on the note D

D major is a major scale based on D, consisting of the pitches D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. Its key signature has two sharps. Its relative minor is B minor and its parallel minor is D minor.

G-flat major is a major scale based on G, consisting of the pitches G, A, B, C, D, E, and F. Its key signature has six flats.

English Folk Song Suite is one of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams' most famous works. It was first published for the military band as Folk Song Suite and its premiere was given at Kneller Hall on 4 July 1923, conducted by Lt Hector Adkins. The piece was then arranged for full orchestra in 1924 by Vaughan Williams' student Gordon Jacob and published as English Folk Song Suite. The piece was later arranged for British-style brass band in 1956 by Frank Wright and published as English Folk Songs Suite. All three versions were published by Boosey & Hawkes; note the use of three different titles for the three different versions.

Flute repertoire is the general term for pieces composed for flute. The following lists are not intended to be complete, but rather to present a representative sampling of the most commonly played and well-known works in the genre. The lists also do not generally include works originally written for other instruments and subsequently transcribed, adapted, or arranged for flute, unless such piece is very common in the repertory, in which case it is listed with its original instrumentation noted.

Euphonium repertoire Set of available musical works for euphonium

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.

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Trumpet repertoire Set of available musical works for trumpet

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Woodwind section

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  1. Gangl, Manuel (2021). The E-flat clarinet. Austria: Manuel Gangl Verlag. p. 72. ISBN   978-3-9519865-3-1.
  2. Gangl, Manuel (2021). The E-flat clarinet. Austria: Manuel Gangl Verlag. p. 85. ISBN   978-3-9519865-3-1.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Tschaikov, Basil (1995). "The high clarinets". In Lawson, Colin (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet. Cambridge Companions to Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 43–56.
  4. Reynish, Tim. "Schuhplatter To Stockhausen - Concert Dance Music".
  5. Aldrich, Simon (February 1997). "Johann Melchior Molter". Continuo Magazine.
  6. Rice, Albert R. (July 25, 2013). "Clarinet". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2240511.