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Author Topic: Why no C clarinets?  (Read 1046 times)

Offline LarryS

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Why no C clarinets?
« on: December 22, 2021, 01:33:47 PM »
I mentioned C clarinet on a Facebook group and came to the conclusion that they are frowned upon, poo pooed and generally derided, but why? Surely having a non transposing instrument makes a lot more sense, certainly to me. Anyone on here like them? And how much shorter in length is one compared to a Bb? I was wondering if its possible to get a very short barrel, converting my Bb to a C...
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2021, 04:58:49 PM »
Larry,

To address your points:
1. C clarinets date back to the days of simple system keywork, when players would have clarinets in a number of keys to cope with music in many keys. With the "modern" clarinet, that became largely unnecessary. The 19th century C clarinet had a bore and special mouthpiece that was proportioned smaller. Some time in 20th century, C clarinets were introduced with similar bore to the Bb, so they could use the Bb mouthpiece. To compensate for the proportionally too-long MP, the barrel is made very short. The whole instrument is about 2 1/4 inches (5.7 cm) shorter than a Bb.

If you put a very short barrel on your Bb clarinet you will throw off the proportions. If you tune the upper notes, the lower will be WAY off, or vice-versa. The entire instrument must be proportioned smaller to maintain the scale.

There are relatively few orchestral and operatic parts written especially for C clarinet, so there is not a lot of demand on the professional front (it is filled by some European makers). But people who want to read vocal or piano, violin or oboe music like the C clarinet. It is also easier to play with a lot of folk and string music, where Bb is often awkward.

The hard rubber C clarinets from China are essentially very good. I buy them, and upgrade them to what I call "concert quality", then re-sell them with my own guarantee. They always have some defects from imperfect assembly, but with some loving care, they are fine. I play mine a lot.

Excuse me for "tooting my own horn", but here is a link to my page on which I promote my little enterprise:  http://www.windydankoff.com/black-hole-clarinets.html

We have had other C clarinet discussions in this group, but not they are hard to find because when you put "C clarinet" in the search box, it won't except a 1-letter word.
Windy at BLACK • HOLE Clarinets
"User-Friendly" clarinets in Bb and C
http://www.windydankoff.com/black-hole-clarinets.html

Offline LarryS

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2021, 05:35:06 PM »
Thanks for the explanation Windy, as always, very informative!
One other point that has come to my attention. I watched a video on playing overtones by lifting the register key. The guy in the video stated that if you overblow on ANY note in the first register without lifting the Register key you will get an approximation of the 12th of that note. However, when I overblow my clarinet without pressing the register key, I just get a louder note! With correct embouchure and air support, should I be able to hear a 12th overtone?
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2021, 07:03:57 PM »
Tap the register key slightly to "crack" the note then try to maintain it as you close the key. It's a good exercise.
Windy at BLACK • HOLE Clarinets
"User-Friendly" clarinets in Bb and C
http://www.windydankoff.com/black-hole-clarinets.html

Offline LarryS

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2021, 02:42:41 AM »
Thanks, I will try this later. I'm just wondering if my clarinet is overly resistant. Sometimes when blowing it feels like trying to blow down a hosepipe. Feels like my ears are gonna pop
You don't stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing.
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2021, 01:53:59 PM »
If only every instrument out there all played in the key of C...
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Irvine, California, United States

Offline TMHeimer

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2021, 02:32:08 PM »
I've owned a C since 1976 and have used it once in a while. I really should get it repaired. I did use it occasionally in orchestral playing, playing unaccompanied solos, and fun fooling around with friends when I could read concert pitch parts that were passed out.
I found that there were intonation/pitch problems with the throat tones. The barrel is very short already, to make up for using the standard Bb mouthpiece (there is no C mouthpiece to my knowledge).
But, a wonderful bright instrument with almost a "trumpet" sound.
The Most Advanced Clarinet Book
tomheimer.ampbk.com/
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom (PDF, click book)
Amazon, Sheet Music Plus (item SO.1114097)
"Boreal Ballad" for unacc. clarinet solo (advanced)
Sheet Music Plus (item SO.858339)
YouTube performances - search by title (Nielsen Concerto)

Offline LarryS

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Re: Why no C clarinets?
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2021, 03:16:57 PM »
Well, an old name for clarinet means little trumpet
You don't stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing.
My music blog:
The Music Tree


Clarinet Pages are go!