The History of the Clarinet

David Wolfswinkel Gr. 9e2

Table of Contents Introduction: Reed instruments in ancient culture The Chalumeau Birth of the Clarinet Further developments Famous clarinet compositions Conclusion .

the chalumeau gradually disappeared. and the Zummara was a single reed instrument. of what is now considered the lower register of the clarinet – ranging from an E an octave below middle C. This disposition made it uninteresting to composers and very little music was composed for the chalumeau. The Zummara also had two pipes parallel to each other. However. the pipes were said to be out of tune with each other. instrument makers began experimenting with the chalumeau and it slowly began reappearing. The chalumeau had a limited range. The Chalumeau (pronounced Shaloomoh) was originally considered a shepherd’s instrument played widely in Europe. however. and the right-hand pipe played the melody. to G just above middle C. the closest we can get to an original chalumeau. although still disliked by composers. a similar type of instrument existed called the Pungi. until… . Through-out the baroque and classical era. despite the Egyptians best efforts. It had 8 finger holes and 2 keys so that the 2 highest notes could be played. The Chalumeau Although there are no candidates for the direct ancestral instrument of the clarinet. it most likely developed from an instrument played in the Resistance era – the chalumeau. the left-hand pipe played the accompaniment. and therefore produced a very dissonant sound. until at the turn of the 18th century. the instrument to the right is a box-clarinet. one on each pipe. not one chalumeau survived this era. only about one and a half octaves. and since ancient times have only developed further into the many reed instruments that appear in the symphony orchestra today. In India. But. Reed instruments of the same kind have been found in many ancient cultures around the world. such as the clarinet. so that with each finger the player covered two holes.Introduction: Reed Instruments in Ancient Culture In around 2700BC. the Egyptians created an instrument called the Zummara.

The register key gave the instrument the ability to access a higher register. It is now made of either wood or plastic. at times up to 3-dashed c.Birth of the Clarinet In 1690. This gave the clarinet an advantage of a very large range and a new. The actual cylindrical bore and barrel have also been experimented on and were made of several different materials – leading to the invention of the Saxophone. that is a wooden wind instrument invented by a Nuremberger at the beginning of this century. Further Developments Ever since the first Clarinet. but a twelfth. The German text on the description of 1740 says: "Clarinetto. similer to other woodwind instruments. This instruments sounds from afar rather alike a trumpet and it reaches from the Tenor f up to the 2-dashed a. except that it has a wide mouthpiece. decided to tackle the chalumeau. it has undergone immense development and change: More keys were added to further increase the range – the clarinet now has five registers. a German instrument maker Johann Christoph Denner and his son Jacob Denner. . by jumping. It is not unlike a long oboe. truly unique sound that would make it stand the test of time. not an octave. They added a few keys to expand the chalumeau’s range and invented a register key. The mechanics of the mouthpiece and reed has been perfected to allow the player playing ease.


It has definitely been an instrument that has stood the test of time. and will also be remembered for many years. It has brought about many composers and performers. Here is a list of a few famous clarinet compositions: Clarinet Concerto in A major – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Premier Rhapsody – Claude Debussy (see previous page) Phantasiestücke (3 Fantasy Pieces) for clarinet – Robert Schumann Trio for clarinet . to come.the-clarinets. History of the Clarinet(online) The Clarinet – History http://www. in not only Clarinet Compositions Along with this new and unique instrument also came a burst of new compositions. cello & piano in A minor – Johannes Brahms Conclusion The clarinet has definitely been a milestone in musical development. but also jazz. blues and contemporary music genera’s.htm Clarinet/History http://en. and compositions.html Bibliography