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Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. A skilled performer can use his or her embouchure to considerably alter the tuning of individual notes or produce vibrato , a pulsating change of pitch often employed in jazz. Special fingerings may be used to play quarter tones and other microtonal intervals.
Stein, a Berlin musicologist, made a quarter-tone clarinet, which was soon abandoned. Clarinet bodies have been made from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, hard rubber , metal, resin , and ivory. Metal soprano clarinets were popular in the early 20th century until plastic instruments supplanted them;  metal construction is still used for the bodies of some contra-alto and contrabass clarinets and the necks and bells of nearly all alto and larger clarinets.
Hard rubber, such as ebonite , has been used for clarinets since the s, although few modern clarinets are made of it. Clarinet designers Alastair Hanson and Tom Ridenour are strong advocates of hard rubber. This material is also not affected by humidity, and the weight is the same as that of a wooden clarinet.
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Mouthpieces are generally made of hard rubber, although some inexpensive mouthpieces may be made of plastic. Other materials include wire, wire mesh, plastic, naugahyde , string, or leather. The clarinet uses a single reed made from the cane of Arundo donax , a type of grass. 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 clarinet's sound. Basic reed measurements are as follows: tip, 12 millimetres 0. Adjustment to these measurements is one method of affecting tone color.
Most clarinetists buy manufactured reeds, although many make adjustments to these reeds, and some make their own reeds from cane "blanks". This numbering system is not standardized—reeds with the same number often vary in hardness across manufacturers and models. However, all modern clarinets have similar components. 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. In the past, clarinetists used to wrap a string around the mouthpiece and reed instead of using a ligature. 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 lower lip, while the top teeth normally contact the top of the mouthpiece some players roll the upper lip under the top teeth to form what is called a 'double-lip' embouchure. It is not uncommon for clarinetists to employ methods to relieve the pressure on the upper teeth and inner lower lip by attaching pads to the top of the mouthpiece or putting temporary padding on the front lower teeth, commonly from folded paper. Next is the short barrel ; this part of the instrument may be extended to fine-tune the clarinet.
As the pitch of the clarinet is fairly temperature-sensitive, some instruments have interchangeable barrels whose lengths vary slightly. Additional compensation for pitch variation and tuning can be made by pulling out the barrel and thus increasing the instrument's length, particularly common in group playing in which clarinets are tuned to other instruments such as in an orchestra or concert band. Some performers use a plastic barrel with a thumbwheel that adjusts the barrel length. On basset horns and lower clarinets, the barrel is normally replaced by a curved metal neck.
The main body of most clarinets is divided into the upper joint , the holes and most keys of which are operated by the left hand, and the lower joint with holes and most keys operated by the right hand. Some clarinets have a single joint: on some basset horns and larger clarinets the two joints are held together with a screw clamp and are usually not disassembled for storage. The left thumb operates both a tone hole and the register key. Advocates of the wraparound register key say it improves sound, and it is harder for moisture to accumulate in the tube beneath the pad.
The body of a modern soprano clarinet is equipped with numerous tone holes of which seven six front, one back are covered with the fingertips, and the rest are opened or closed using a set of keys. These tone holes let the player produce every note of the chromatic scale. On alto and larger clarinets, and a few soprano clarinets, key-covered holes replace some or all finger holes.
The cluster of keys at the bottom of the upper joint protruding slightly beyond the cork of the joint are known as the trill keys and are operated by the right hand. Finally, the flared end is known as the bell. Contrary to popular belief, the bell does not amplify the sound; rather, it improves the uniformity of the instrument's tone for the lowest notes in each register.
Above the 1st hole, there is a key that lifts two covers creating the note A in the throat register high part of low register of the clarinet. The clarinet has its roots in the early single-reed instruments or hornpipes used in Ancient Greece , Ancient Egypt ,  Middle East , and Europe since the Middle Ages , such as the albogue , alboka , and double clarinet.
The modern clarinet developed from a Baroque instrument called the chalumeau. This instrument was similar to a recorder , but with a single-reed mouthpiece and a cylindrical bore. Around the turn of the 18th century, the chalumeau was modified by converting one of its keys into a register key to produce the first clarinet.
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This development is usually attributed to German instrument maker Johann Christoph Denner , though some have suggested his son Jacob Denner was the inventor. Early clarinets did not play well in the lower register, so players continued to play the chalumeaux for low notes.
Original Denner clarinets had two keys, and could play a chromatic scale , but various makers added more keys to get improved tuning, easier fingerings, and a slightly larger range. Clarinets were soon accepted into orchestras. Later models had a mellower tone than the originals. Mozart d. The next major development in the history of clarinet was the invention of the modern pad. This required pad-covered holes to be kept to a minimum, restricting the number of notes the clarinet could play with good tone. Modern instruments may also have cork or synthetic pads. These countries still use a direct descendant of the Mueller clarinet known as the Oehler system clarinet.
Each of these addressed—and often improved—issues of particular "weak" tones, or simplified awkward fingerings, but none has caught on widely among players, and the Boehm system remains the standard, to date. Before about , due to the lack of airtight pads see History , practical woodwinds could have only a few keys to control accidentals notes outside their diatonic home scales. This involves more keywork than on instruments that "overblow" at the octave— oboes , flutes , bassoons , and saxophones , for example, which need only twelve notes before overblowing.
Clarinets with few keys cannot therefore easily play chromatically, limiting any such instrument to a few closely related keys. With the invention of the airtight pad, and as key technology improved and more keys were added to woodwinds, the need for clarinets in multiple keys was reduced. The lower-pitched clarinets sound "mellower" less bright , and the C clarinet—being the highest and therefore brightest of the three—fell out of favour as the other two could cover its range and their sound was considered better.