Interesting and Fun Clarinet Facts

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Clarinet By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: Clarinet
Last updated: 08/10/2010
Tags: advice (beginners), clarinet

Here are some interesting clarinet facts that are sure to have you sounding very knowledgeable at your next practice session:

  • The clarinet is the most recent addition to the woodwind family and was the last woodwind to be included in the symphony orchestra.

  • The predecessor to the clarinet was the chalumeau, the first single reed instrument. It was popular during the Middle Ages but had a small range of around 1 ½ octaves.

  • Clarinet keys are particularly complicated because the clarinet overblows to a twelfth which extends its fundamental compass to nineteen half tones. The other woodwinds overblow to the octave (twelve half tones).

  • A cane reed needs a diameter of at least 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) if it is to be made into a reed for a clarinet.


And some trivia:

  • Julia Roberts played clarinet in bands when she was at school.
  • Woody Allen plays the clarinet at Michael's Pub in New York City on Monday nights, and has even turned down invitations to the Oscars because he has a gig.
  • Steven Spielberg can be seen playing the clarinet in an orchestra early on in his movie "Jaws"


Also something highly interesting:

One of the most popular symphonic clarinet solos is the one in George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The opening for Gershwin's 'jazz concerto' features the clarinet ascending from a low note to a high note followed by a melody. During the rehearsal of the piece for the premier performance in 1924, the clarinet soloist decided it would be funny to glissando (slide) up to the high note rather than play the written chromatic scale notes. Gershwin liked it so much that it has been played that way ever since!

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