in E♭, which sounds a minor third above its written scale, and stands in three flats. In the orchestra an instrument in A, sounding a minor third below the corresponding note of a C instrument, is much used, and stands in three sharps. It will be seen that the B♭ and A clarinets respectively lower the range of the lowest note to D♮ and C♯, thus augmenting the whole compass of the instrument.
They also have the advantage of lessening the number of flats and sharps in the signature. Although the clarinet has been much improved it still presents great difficulties in extreme keys, and these are to some extent avoided by the B♭ instruments lessening the flats by two in flat keys, and the A instrument the sharps by three in sharp signatures. A melody in C would thus have to be played in G by the F, in A by the E♭, in D by the B♭, and in E♭ by the A clarinets. The following table shows how the notes will be written for each instrument, so as to sound like those of the C clarinet:—
|1. C clarinet|
|2. B♭ "|
|3. A "|
|4. E♭ "|
|5. F "|
|6. For Corno di bassetto in F:|
7. The Italians—as Cavallini and Canongia—sometimes write for the B♭ clarinet in the tenor clef;
as if written
in in the ordinary way (No. 2 above). The two intrinsic flats of the instrument have of course to be supplied by the player.
Besides the four instruments already named others are occasionally used. A small clarinet in F, above the C instrument, has been mercifully given up, except in an occasional piece of German dance music. The D, between these two, is also considered by some composers to blend better with the violins than the graver-pitched clarinets. The D♭ is convenient for taking the part of the military flute, which stands in that key. A clarinet in H would puzzle most English players, although it appears in Mozart's score of 'Idomeneo'—being the German for B♮. Below the A clarinet we also have several others. One in A♭ is useful in military music. In F we have the tenor clarinet, and the corno di bassetto or bassethorn, perhaps the most beautiful of the whole family. The tenor in E♭ stands in the same relation to this as the B♭ does to the C, and is consequently used in military bands. [Corno di Bassetto.] Proceeding still lower in the scale we arrive at the bass clarinets. The commonest of these is in B♭, the octave of the ordinary instrument, but the writer has a C basso of Italian make, and Wagner has written for an A basso. They are none of them very satisfactory instruments; the characteristic tone of the clarinet seeming to end with the corno di bassetto. [See Bass Clarinet.]
Helmholtz has analysed the tone and musical character of the clarinet among the other wind-instruments, and shows that the sounds proper to the reed itself are hardly ever employed, being very sharp and of harsh quality; those actually produced being lower in pitch, dependent on the length of the column of air, and corresponding to the sounds proper to a stopped organ-pipe. With a cylindrical tube these are the third, fifth, seventh, and eighth partial sounds of the fundamental tone. The upper register rising a twelfth from the lower or chalumeau, seems to carry out the same law in another form. On the other hand, the conical tubes of the oboe and bassoon correspond to open pipes of the same length, in which the octave, the twelfth, and the double octave form the first three terms of the series. See his paper in the 'Journal für reine und angewandte Mathematik,' vol. Ivii.
The lowest note of the register is clearly an arbitrary matter. It has probably been dictated by the fact that nine of the ten available digits are fully occupied. But M. Sax, whose improvements in wind-instruments have surpassed those which explicitly bear his name, has extended the scale another semitone by adding a second key for the right little finger. Even the octave C can be touched by employing the right thumb, which at present merely supports the instrument. It is always so employed in the bassethorn, and a B♭ instrument thus extended must have been known to Mozart, who writes the beautiful obbligato to 'Parto,' in his 'Clemenza di Tito,' down to bass B♭, a major third below the instrument as now made.
To whatever period we may ascribe the invention of the clarinet, it is certain that it does not figure in the scores of the earlier composers. Bach and Handel never use it. An instrument entitled Chalumeau appears in the writings of Gluck, to which Berlioz appends the note that it is now unknown and obsolete. This may have been a clarinet in some form. [App. p.591 adds that "the first instance of the use of the clarinet as an orchestral instrument is said to be in J. C. Bach's 'Orione' (1763)."] Haydn uses it very sparingly. Most of his symphonies are without the part, and the same remark applies to his church music. There is, however, a fine trio for two clarinets and bassoon in the 'Et Incarnatus' of the First Mass, and there are one or two prominent passages in the 'Creation,' especially obbligatos to the air 'With verdure clad,' and 'On mighty pens,' and a quartet of reeds accompanying the trio 'On Thee each living