The instruments

The Bb clarinet


The Bb Clarinet

The Clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a single swinging reed and a cylindrical bore. It is governed by the acoustic law of closed pipes, and its key, commonly but improperly called the octave key, makes it a "quintuating" instrument... That is to say, in the upper register, it plays a 12th (an octave and a fifth).


In its history, the presence of instruments resembling the Clarinet is attested in Egypt as early as the 3rd millennium. Since then, it has continued to evolve.

It is likely that the French pastoral Chalumeau of the Middle Ages is at its origin.


From the middle of the 17th century, attempts were made in Germany to improve the "primitive" instrument by giving it a greater range. Around 1690 an inventor and instrument maker from Nuremberg, Johann Christoph Denner (1655-1707), invented the Clarinet by adding keys and a bell to the Chalumeau. During the following century the instrument evolved considerably. In 1812 Ivan Müller (1786-1854) innovated a 13-key clarinet which, despite the condemnation of the Academy, soon triumphed over the other existing models. However, it was dethroned in 1839 by Louis Auguste Buffet, Hyacinthe Klosé and Theobald Boehm, brilliant inventors and musicians who made a clarinet with a new key system.



A big family

The Clarinet family is very large (about a dozen, in almost every key). Among the most commonly used are the Bb Clarinet, the Eb Clarinet (known as the Petite Clarinet) and the Bb Bass Clarinet.


In the orchestra but not only

Joseph Faber (1660-1741), Kapellmeister, seems to have been the first to use it in the orchestra in one of his masses in 1720. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) is said to have given it a concertante role in some of his works. J. P. Rameau (1683-1764), Carl Stamitz (1745-1801) and W. A. Mozart (1756-1791), in his quintet and concerto, gave him a solo role.   

It is used in various styles. Its timbre, very rich in odd harmonics, gives it a round, warm and velvety sound.

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Pierre Boutin


Saxophone teacher with a Certificate of Proficiency. Conductor and composer, former school director. Member of the Saxophone Quartet of France.


Philippe Salaberry


Clarinet teacher with the Certificat d'Aptitude. Solo clarinet of the Paris Air Force Band.