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Bb clarinet plays in key A

Hi,,,,, I’m new to the clarinet. I confess I just bought my Prelude CL711 clarinet on eBay.
I don’t think it was a "knockoff". .... It’s a medium quality student clarinet common in High School music classes.
Hence.... there are a lot of used ones out there at very reasonable costs.
Whether it works for all modes, I can’t say, however it seems to play through the basic scale fine.
What’s weird is although the Prelude is only manufactured in the key of Bb, Mine seems to be playing in the Key of A.
If I play through the scale, the notes played according to my digital tuner are:
A B C# D E F# G# A.
As a result, it’s been confusing trying to follow any lessons presented on UTube because most (ail?) of these lessons are in the key of Bb.
The Following copied from Yamaha website:
"For example, when a musical score for the clarinet reading C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C is played on an A clarinet, the actual notes played will be A, B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G♯, A, while if the same score is played on a B♭ clarinet, the actual notes played will be B♭, C, D, E♭, F, G, A, B♭."

I have a very imperfect knowledge of theory so maybe I’m missing something.
My Bb horn appears to be playing in The key of A. How can that be?
Any enlightenment is much appreciated
Thanks
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Is the digital tuner set to Bb clarinet, A=440hz or is it set to C, A=440hz? My ancient Korg tuner does allow for different key inputs (e.g. if it's set to Bb instruments and you play a C on a Bb clarinet, it says C on the tuner) and hz levels.
 
Hey Pete, I might be a little ignorant on this ..... I’ve used the tuner for my guitar and for Native American flutes.
Hz is adjustable and is set for A @ 440 . I wasn’t aware that it could otherwise be tuned for Bb or C somehow.
What I have noticed is that when I try to play along with UTube lessons, the clarinet plays very flat. I’m not even close to playing along with the lesson... I believe I’m playing about 3 steps flat. (?)
I Would think if the clarinet was tuned at Bb, I would be in tune with the lesson in Bb
Thanks, Don
 
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I have three digital tuners purchased over the years.
The one that I have been using is an "el-cheapo" Shar ST204 Digital Metro-Tuner that I purchased 10(?) years ago for a whopping $10.00.
Set to: Pitch: 440Hz Key of C
This way the tuner is set to read in concert pitch thus a C played on my Bb clarinet will read as a Bb ...... I could adjust the key but I like it this way.
It's small (can fit on a manhasset stand along with the music)/works well/I can add a clip-on mic at the insert if necessary - and it was inexpensive.

One thing that I would check though, is that you are playing your mouthpiece "in tune".

Play just-the-mouthpiece, and you should be able to produce a "high concert C" (C3?) - [same as a high D on the Bb clarinet]
I check the mouthpiece pitch with a tuner as it's easy for the pitch to sag a 1/2 step....... (due to a soft reed or loose embouchure or both)
After I check the mouthpiece pitch (making sure it's where it needs to be) I will then put it on the instrument and play a high D to see if everything lines-up, then I proceed to open G, middle C, etc.
I always start out my practice sessions doing the above - and I've been playing for years.....'just paranoid I guess...

I hope that this helps.
 
I have three digital tuners purchased over the years.
The one that I have been using is an "el-cheapo" Shar ST204 Digital Metro-Tuner that I purchased 10(?) years ago for a whopping $10.00.
Set to: Pitch: 440Hz Key of C
This way the tuner is set to read in concert pitch thus a C played on my Bb clarinet will read as a Bb ...... I could adjust the key but I like it this way.
It's small (can fit on a manhasset stand along with the music)/works well/I can add a clip-on mic at the insert if necessary - and it was inexpensive.

One thing that I would check though, is that you are playing your mouthpiece "in tune".

Play just-the-mouthpiece, and you should be able to produce a "high concert C" (C3?) - [same as a high D on the Bb clarinet]
I check the mouthpiece pitch with a tuner as it's easy for the pitch to sag a 1/2 step....... (due to a soft reed or loose embouchure or both)
After I check the mouthpiece pitch (making sure it's where it needs to be) I will then put it on the instrument and play a high D to see if everything lines-up, then I proceed to open G, middle C, etc.
I always start out my practice sessions doing the above - and I've been playing for years.....'just paranoid I guess...

I hope that this helps.
 
Mike
Thank you very much for your input.
I truly appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my question.
I’m realizing I have very little understanding of music theory.
The tuner I use is a very simple and inexpensive one which provides the note and a Hz frequency adjustment.
I think it’s used more appropriately for checking tuning on a guitar.
"Setting a pitch to the key of C" completely escapes me.
Yesterday I located a clarinet teacher near my home and I’m to begin lessons next week.
I will certainly be asking (and hopefully understanding) more about the suggestions you and Pete have offered in this forum.
I'm very excited as I’ve been having a lot of fun with the instrument despite my ignorance.
I look forward to participating in the forum when I have a bit more experience with regard the tuning and playing of my clarinet.
Thanks Again
 
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