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Extended range Bb clarinet?

Discussion in 'ONLINE Videos' started by Groovekiller, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. Groovekiller

    Groovekiller Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I saw this video of a performance of the Mozart clarinet concerto, and the lady playing the piece is using a Bb soprano clarinet with an extended lower joint. Anyone know anything about this horn?

  2. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator


    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    In the 1980's, all of the French makers (Selmer, Leblanc and Buffet) had these in their inventories. Later on, Tom Ridenour added one to his line of Chinese made horns.

    One of them even had a fitting for a big long peg on the bell. I've played all of the French ones and they didn't seem all that heavy to me, but different strokes for different folks.
  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I'll make it quick, because I'm tired :).

    I find it interesting that you can get what is essentially an attachment for your A clarinet to turn it into a Basset clarinet. I find that odd and interesting. I know that even the saxophone can have its keyed range extended lower, but I'm not making (say) my tenor sax into a bass sax if I just add on some tubing. The horns usually have a very distinct difference in tone quality.

    Shouldn't a true Basset clarinet have a different tone quality than an A clarinet?
  5. To the OP, it's a basset clarinet in A. It's like an A clarinet but with low C.

    Not really. The original basset was different anyway, so it's depends more on how you build the A clarinet and not because of the range. It's just range. Some play copies of old basset clarinets (maybe some even originals) which have a different tone than a modern clarinet.
  6. bpimentel

    bpimentel Broadway Doubler List Owner Distinguished Member

    Perhaps you are thinking of a basset horn?

    The basset clarinet is a clarinet with an extended range. The basset horn is something different--a larger instrument something like an alto clarinet (but pitched in F). It has a larger bore than an A clarinet, and, as you say, a distinct difference in tone quality.
  7. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    kinda like a Full Boehm v standard / enhanced boehm ......

    there are Full Boehm A clarinets out there too

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Using the term "alto clarinet" when referring to the basset horn is insulting to basset horns, horns of any type, and (for all I know) basset hounds and Angela Bassett. Let's watch our language, shall we?

    There is some evidence that Anton Stadtler used a clarinet with special keywork to low C when performing the original version of the Mozart work. But, I haven't read anything that was absolutely, 100% conclusive on the topic. Most of the speculation was based upon a fragment of the Concerto that was found separate from the accepted one, or at least not included in the version published "at the time".

    In the days of the simple, six key clarinet, such an instrument (where all of the keys on the extremely long lower joint would have had to be operated by "clapper"-style levers, not interconnected in any way) would have been considered a mechanical monstrosity.

    Regarding "full Boehm" clarinets, not only can you buy such instruments in Bb and A, but Selmer also produced them in Eb.

    One sold on eBay a few years ago; a beautiful little instrument with silver plated keywork. From the extensive photos, it looked to be in mint condition, as you would expect an Eb clarinet to be.

    I bid that sucker up pretty high, but didn't win, upon reflection that being a good thing as the sale originated in Italy, a supposed hot bed of eBay fraud.

    I haven't seen a Leblanc catalog in many, many years, but I seem to recall that they offered all of their soprano clarinets with "full Boehm" keywork. I remember photographs of such instruments, including clarinets in Bb, A, C, D and Eb. But, it was a long, long time ago.

    And finally, the professional Selmer bass clarinets are (in effect) offered with as close to "full Boehm" keywork as they can get. The alternate Eb, articulated G# and low Eb (for transposing A bass clarinet parts, a vital addition to any professional instrument as A bass clarinets are very thin on the ground these days) are all there and functional (and seldom if ever called "too complicated" by those who use them, unlike the soprano versions of the same thing.

    All that is missing is the forked Eb/Bb mechanism. Looking at the Sax-designed LH plateau work, I can't see a way that the same facility could be offered on the bass, at least without adding another barrel and axle atop the already high stuff that's already there.

    And, recalling only too well the muffled effect that the Leblanc fork Eb/Ab mechanism (operated by the right hand) had on their professional bass clarinet, I'm not so sure that I'd want to have the same "benefits" carried over to the left hand as well.

    And, as an afterthought, it has always bothered me that the "Boehm" system is used to refer to the clarinets that the non-Germanic parts of the world almost universally play. While it is true that Boehm was responsible for the "regularization" of the flute, making it the vile instrument that it has become today, he didn't do squat about the clarinet.

    Hyacinthe Klose (without the accents) took the Boehm system of rings used to operate connected key cups (called Brille in German, or "eyeglasses" for their resemblance to eyeglass frames) and applied them, along with many other improvements of his own devising, to straighten out all of the inconsistencies of the "simple" clarinet. As far as anyone can determine, Oswald Boehm had nothing at all to do with the whole process.

    We don't call oboes or bassoons with ring keys "Boehm system oboes" or "Boehm system bassoons" (although I understand that there is such a thing in the bassoon world as well); why should we do so for clarinets?

    That's enough for now - I'll save my diatribe on why alto clarinets don't need a bell for later...
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  9. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    You are such a tease Terry.
  10. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Just to yank Terry's chain a bit:


    Actually, it's not an Alto, it's some kind of short Basset horn. :cool:
  11. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

  12. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator


    Are you trying to scare small children with that thing? Do you kiss your wife with the same mouth that you have on that?

    That's not only an alto clarinet - it's a Leblanc alto clarinet - in effect, a double whammy. That "special register key" mechanism (I saw it described that way in a Leblanc publication - perhaps they meant "special" in the "special education" sense) always distracted me on Leblanc horns. The ones that used all hissed like a viper on some notes - I kept wanting to cover my throat to protect against the expected snake bite.

    At least there's no neck strap involved. I have never understood the need for a neck strap for small instruments for those without physical disabilities, yet there appear to be plenty of english horn, clarinet and oboe (?!?!) players who feel the need to relieve all of two pounds pressure on their thumbs, much less alto and bass clarinet players.

    Perhaps I (who can play the extended range bass clarinet off of my thumb for long periods of time if needed, and have been known to do the same with my baritone for short periods of time) am some sort of Nietzsche inspired superman...
  13. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Er...that's an open-holed Bundy. Wanna close-ups? <wink, wink, nudge, nudge>
  14. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

  15. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    No, I was thinking of Basset clarinet.

    I've remarked, elsewhere, that I've heard some classical saxophone players play a variety of pitches and they tend to sound like they have one big saxophone with an incredible range. As an example, I've used Jay Easton on his So Low CD. It's not that it's "bad" to play like that, I just think that each pitch of sax can have a different tone color depending on how you play.

    Now, in the case of the basset clarinet, why not just call it a clarinet with a low C or something?
  16. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    That's what I get for going by the trill keys. Perhaps it is the spawn of an unholy union between a Selmer USA bass and a Leblanc Bb soprano, with the child taking the name of the father if not the brand...

    Same general register key setup, though.

    I can see why you don't need a neck strap - it takes a lot of cajones to play an open-holed alto of any parentage.

    When I was a paid shill for Selmer once, we were given similar animals and told to go to, with only a half-hour to get to know the beasts before the performance. I managed (just), but my slim fingered, normally bass clarinet playing partner in crime (one Lynn Biggins, so help me God) had a hard time keeping up, particularly over the break.

    With the way things are going on eBay, you should be able to upgrade to a professional level Selmer or Leblanc horn for about the price of a Big Mac. That way, you can have the real register key system.

    Does anyone know if Buffet or Yamaha has ever made alto clarinets?
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