In its origin, the clarinet is the youngest woodwind instrument. Even in ancient times and Middle Ages there were different types of woodwind instruments. The immediate forerunner of the clarinet was the medieval woodwind instrument in Germany called schalmei, and in France chalumeau. These words are most likely derived from the ancient Greek term “kalamos” and the Latin one “calamus” meaning reed or pipe.
The invention of the first clarinet is attributed to the German flute maker Johann Christoph Denner of Nuremberg sometime between 1690 and 1700. He improved the chalumeau by extending its sound volume and adding two holes and two keys.
The clarinet got its name after a long-tube baroque trumpet called clarino that produced bright sounds and whose role in the orchestra it took over after that.
Further development of the clarinet is related to many names of instrument makers and performers who, over time, added some keys to it. Certainly the most revolutionary development was the “Boehm” (Böhm)clarinet model that appeared about 1840.
In the past, clarinets were built in various sizes and scales: A, B, C, E flat, A flat. The most frequently used ones nowadays are the B flat and A clarinets, rarely the E flat and the bass clarinet.
Among the first composers who used the clarinet in the orchestra were Rameau and the members of the Mannheim School (K. Stamitz and others). The instrument was especially favoured by Mozart. Since his time, it has regularly found its place in a symphonic orchestra. It is also used as a solo instrument.
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I Am Studying Clarinet I