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{{#invoke:Infobox|infobox}} The clarinet {{#invoke:IPAc-en|main}}<ref>pronunciation of clarinet in the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries</ref>is a family of woodwind instruments that have a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight cylindrical tube with an approximately cylindrical bore, and a flaring bell. A person who plays any type of clarinet is called a clarinettist or clarinetist.

The word clarinet may have entered the English language via the French clarinette (the feminine diminutive of Old French clarin or clarion), or from Provençal clarin, "oboe".<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> It would seem however that its real roots are to be found amongst some of the alternative names for trumpets used around the renaissance and baroque eras. Clarion, clarin and the Italian clarino are all derived from the medieval term claro which referred to an early form of trumpet.<ref>"The Oxford Companion to Music" Percy A. Scholes. Tenth Edition. "Trumpet Family" 3: p1051</ref> This is probably the origin of the Italian clarinetto, itself a diminutive of clarino, and consequently of the European equivalents such as clarinette in French or the German Klarinette. According to Johann Gottfried Walther, writing in 1732, the reason for the name is that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet". The English form clarinet is found as early as 1733, and the now-archaic clarionet appears from 1784 until the early years of the 20th century.<ref>Rendall, pp. 1–2, 69.</ref>

While the similarity in sound between the earliest clarinets and the trumpet may hold a clue to its name, it is also worth noting that at this period of the baroque era, contemporary composers such as Bach and Handel were making new demands on the skills of their trumpeters, who were often required to be play difficult melodic passages in the high, or as it came to be called, clarion register. Since the trumpets of the era had no valves or pistons, melodic passages would often require the use of the highest part of the trumpet's range, where the harmonics were close enough together to produce scales of adjacent notes as opposed to the gapped scales or arpeggios of the lower register. The trumpet parts that required this speciality were headed by the term clarino and this in turn came to apply to the musicians themselves. It is possible that the term clarinet may partly owe to this and it has even been suggested that clarino players may have helped themselves out by playing particularly difficult passages on these newly developed "mock trumpets". <ref>"The Clarinet and Clarinet Playing" - David Pino (Dover Publications, 1998) pp 198 & 233</ref>

Johann Christoph Denner is generally believed to have invented the clarinet in Germany around the turn of the 18th century by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau. Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the tone and playability.

The term clarinet now normally refers to the B clarinet (also B soprano clarinet). However, the clarinet in A, just a semitone lower, is commonly used in orchestral music. Since the middle of the 19th century the bass clarinet (nowadays invariably in B but with extra keys to extend the register down a few notes) has become an essential addition to the orchestra. The clarinet family ranges from the (extremely rare) BBB octo-contrabass to the A piccolo clarinet. Today, the clarinet is commonly used in classical music (such as concert bands, orchestras, chamber music, and solo repertoire), military bands, marching bands, klezmer, and jazz.


Clarinet sections
Intro   Characteristics    Construction    History    Usage and repertoire    Extended family of clarinets    See also    References   Cited sources   Further reading    External links   

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