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E♭ clarinet

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The Eb™­ clarinet is a member of the clarinet family. It is usually classed as a soprano clarinet, although some authors prefer to describe it as a "sopranino". In Italian it is referred to as a quartino, generally appearing in scores as quartino in Mi♭. It is used in orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, and clarinet choirs. It plays a particularly central role in clarinet choirs, in which it carries the high melodies that would be treacherous for the B♭ clarinet. Solo repertoire is generally very limited. In many cases E♭ clarinet is doubled by a B♭ clarinetist.

The slightly larger D clarinet is specified in many scores. D clarinets were once commonly employed by some composers to be used by one player equipped with instruments in D and E♭, similar to the way in which one player would be equipped with instruments in B♭ and A. In modern performance (especially in America and western Europe), it is generally preferred to transpose the parts to be played on E♭ clarinet alone, the E♭ being more common and of higher quality. The problem with this practice is that when parts originally written for the D clarinet are transposed for the E♭ instrument, it often will result in difficult key signatures and fingerings, making it more difficult to play.

The E♭ clarinet is required to play at the top of its range for much of the time to take advantage of its piercing quality. In this range special, non-standard fingerings are required on most instruments to maintain good pitch. Therefore high, fast passages are often very difficult to play. The embouchure must be much tighter to achieve the brilliance of the upper register which can make the player vulnerable to squeaking. Because of the E♭'s piercing sound, any mistakes are readily obvious to the audience.


[edit] Use in concert bands

Although the E♭ is somewhat of a rarity in school bands, it is a staple instrument in college and other upper level ensembles. Unlike the B♭ soprano clarinet which has numerous musicians performing on each part, the E♭ clarinet part is usually played by only one musician in a typical concert band. This is partially because the E♭ clarinet has a bright, shrill sound very similar to the sound of the piccolo. It commonly plays the role of a garnish instrument along with the piccolo, and duo segments between the two instruments are quite common.

Despite being a member of the clarinet family, the E♭ clarinet is often heard playing along with the flutes, quite possibly due to its high pitch and relatively weaker low register that would be inadequate for the majority of the clarinet features in band literature.

[edit] Use as children's clarinet

While most E♭ clarinets are built and marketed for professionals or advanced students, an inexpensive plastic E♭ clarinet dubbed the "Kinder-Klari" has been produced for beginning children's use; the small size (hence narrower finger spacing) and lower weight makes it easier than a B♭ instrument for a young child to play.

[edit] Orchestral music using the E♭ (or D) clarinet

Some orchestral compositions with notable E♭ or D clarinet solos include:

Other orchestral compositions making use of E♭ or D clarinet include:

[edit] See also

  • Hadcock, Peter, "Orchestral Studies for the E♭ Clarinet", Roncorp Publications. A very useful resource for the E♭ player, containing many of the standard excerpts, and an extensive fingering chart.
This article was started using a Wikipedia clarinet article
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