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It is All Set: Play the Clarinet!

June 6, 2016 - Musical instruments


Here is a question for you: which instrument, according to novelist Thomas Mann, emits the sound that can be compared to the “silvery blossoming harmony?”

You don’t know? Perhaps this hint will help: it was played by the famous bandleader, the King of Swing.

Got it?

If you are thinking of the clarinet, you are correct. Like its cousins the flute, oboe, saxophone, and recorder, the clarinet belongs to the woodwind family. It is the only single-reed instrument in the symphony orchestra.

Source of inspiration

Invented by a German instrument maker named Johann Christoph Denner at the end of the 17th century, the clarinet’s distinct sound – which is more similar to the organ than to other woodwinds – had inspired quite a few great composers. For instance, Vivaldi and Hendel were the first to compose music for the clarinet. Mozart and Beethoven wrote chamber pieces for this instrument, as did later composers like Schumann and Brahms. In the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky composed Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. And, of course, this list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention one of the most popular symphonic clarinet solos in George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, which starts with a low note ascending to a high one.

Getting to know more about you…

Now that you know the basics, here are some more fun facts about the clarinet:

  • Its body is most commonly made out of hard wood, usually African Blackwood, also called Grenadilla. Materials used for the mouthpiece are hard rubber (ebonite), plastic, glass, crystal, or sometimes metal.
  • The clarinet’s characteristic sound is produced by the vibration of the reed and pressing down the keys.
  • Quite a few famous people play (or played) this instrument. Among them: Jimmy Kimmel, Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, and Alan Greenspan.
  • There is an annual Clarinet Festival, as well as the Clarinet Journal published by the International Clarinet Association

And let’s not forget one more important piece of information: if you, your child, or another member of your family would like to learn to play the clarinet, contact us for in-home music lessons.

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