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Low clarinets – an introduction

Video transcript

(dramatic music) - I play what I like to call the harmony clarinets, and I like to call them harmony clarinets because each of these members of the clarinet family have their own unique voice and their own unique sound. They provide a lot of color to the ensemble, a lot of necessary color. There are four different instruments that I play. Bass clarinet. I also play the alto clarinet. Contra clarinets include E flat contra and B flat contra clarinets. And sometimes I play basset horn. My favorite one to play is the alto clarinet, and the alto clarinet gets made fun of quite a bit. It's called the endangered species of the band. And I really enjoy playing the alto clarinet. And I can let you know what this one sounds like. (plays clarinet) So it has a very soprano-like sound for the low clarinets, and it gets doubled with the saxophone, alto saxophones quite a bit. The next clarinet is the bass clarinet, and this is the one that most everyone is familiar with. It's played a lot in orchestras and bands. It has a range that goes as low as a bassoon and as high as the middle range of a flute. (plays clarinet) (classical music) This is the contra clarinet, and there are actually two types of contra clarinets that we use in the band. This one's pitched in E flat, and the other contra clarinet is pitched in B flat, and it's actually taller than I am when I stand up. Some people have to actually sit on something, sit on two chairs or some books. It normally would double a tuba or a double bass. It has a very string-like sound to it. (plays clarinet) Many times during a concert, I'll have to play all three of these instruments, maybe even another instrument like a basset horn. So switching between the instruments can cause some difficulty. The reed might dry out when the instrument is sitting there during a piece and then you have to pick it up. It's cold, so your intonation, you're gonna start, if you're starting out on a cold clarinet, you're going to be flat. So a lotta times I'll take the neck off of the clarinet, this here, and set it in my lap to warm it up so that I make sure that when I'm gonna go to the next piece, if I'm playing, going from contra to bass clarinet, that my horn is gonna be warmed up and ready to go. (dramatic music)