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Bb Soprano Clarinet

I couldn't find this category in the subforum list under the main thread topic, but found it here.
Does anyone have a guestimate of what percent clarinet players play a Bb soprano?
Is the perecentage so high that the category has it's own thread?
That must be the case. I'll have to back out of this and check again.
Excuse me if I violated anything by not checking first. :(
I'm not sure at all, but if you look at a concert band or orchestra you may get a good approximation. With normally 4 or 5 1st, and 2nd and 3rd clarinets (12-15), maybe an alto clarinet and hopefully 1 or 2 bass clarinets you would get a good idea of the number of players out there.

Of course you then have people who can play both but they normally always play the Bb and another one.

hope that helps. Maybe someone else has a better idea.
Steve: Thanks for the reply. I think I was being too subtle with my suggestion, in the form of a rhetorical question, that the Bb Soprano clarinet should be listed with the others under the main Clarinet thread heading, which I see it has been added since my post.

Pete: Thanks for the welcome.
Not a problem.

The heading wasn't there because a button wasn't pushed. I pushed the right one. I must remember, "'Yes' means I want it to happen, 'no' means I don't want it to happen."

Gauging anything about clarinets by looking at the composition of a concert band will end up with a distortion of the real picture. Remember that (in the concert band) the clarinet section is substituting for the high strings in a regular ("real"?) orchestra.

Check out the standard proportions in a symphonic orchestra, and you get something nearer the truth. A couple of soprano horns (both playing Bb, A and C), plus a specialist for the high clarinets (generally Eb and D these days) and an almost full time bass clarinetist. No contra-anythings, no sopranino. (Have you ever heard one of those things in operation? Not something that's ready for prime time.) And certainly no alto clarinets.

We should be thankful that this is the case. Otherwise, the alto clarinets would be w-a-a-a-y more prevalent, and Lord knows that we don't need that. There're too many of them cluttering up the place now as it is
Terry welcome to the community and tell us what you really think of alto clarinets! :D

Your feelings about them echo mine about Piccolos (mostly due to the fact that the Piccolo causes my ears great pain with my tinnitus).
I have no doubts that somewhere, quite secluded, there is a bar where alto clarinet players, violists, and baritone horn players all hang out, the better to cry in their beer, It's a good thing, keeping them all segregated like that...probably soprano and C melody sax players would be welcomed as well.

I have gotten shouts of "Heresy!" from classical musicians in community groups when I suggest reversing the usual string seating order in their group to compensate for too few violists. As they are currently accommodated/tolerated/ghettoized, they sit with the tone holes of their vapid instruments pointing up and away from the audience - hardly the best way to project sound for an instrument that is badly undersized in the bargain.

(The "original" viola instrument had a sound box in between the current size and a 'cello, and was played between the knees a la 'cello. (It survives in the viola de gamba, occasionally seen in "period" musical performances.) Some clever Giovannini at some point decided that it would be great if the viola could be played with violin technique, and so we now have the current neither fish nor fowl viola. Damn'd Italians...)

But, all because some conductor made an executive decision two hundred years ago, there they sit, in effect playing for the backdrop.

Now, where do I go to complain about calling the tenor clarinet in Bb "the bass clarinet"? Does this bother anyone else as much as it does me?
SOTSDO said:
Now, where do I go to complain about calling the tenor clarinet in Bb "the bass clarinet"? Does this bother anyone else as much as it does me?
Terry you make me laugh while you are teaching me things. You've forgotten more things than I've learned. When ya gonna write that book? We can put chapter one up here for review. :ugeek:
SOTSDO said:
Now, where do I go to complain about calling the tenor clarinet in Bb "the bass clarinet"? Does this bother anyone else as much as it does me?
Where do I go to complain that it's not in C? That'd be sane, at least.


I really think I would have enjoyed playing contralto clarinet and the three pieces written for it.

Anyhow, I have mentioned, on more than one occasion, that it's a tenor clarinet, not a bass clarinet. Unless you wanna call a basset horn a tenor clarinet.
pete said:
Unless you wanna call a basset horn a tenor clarinet.

Now, that's just sick...

Back when I was young and footloose, I often borrowed horns from Washington University's music department. They had a fascinating collection tucked away in their rehearsal hall's closet, stuff like a Heckel straight contra bassoon, that couldn't be found anywhere else, not even at long-lamented Hunleth Music (sigh).

Among the rest of it was a pair of Selmer bassett horns, model number unspecified, but looking remarkably like my just purchased Model 33 bass clarinet. Both were pristine, except that one was minus a neck. Not the sort of part you were likely to have in your musical junk box...

I spent part of my spare time one summer mastering (if that can be considered the correct word) the beast. Sort of fun in a not quite alto clarinet way (the Bb soprano mouthpiece made it tolerable). Since then, I managed to parlay my bassett horn skills into playing in one Mozart opera pit orchestra. Still, you never know when the call might come.
I'd definitely like to try a basset clarinet or a basset horn at some time. Just for the experience.
That's one of the good things about the International Clarinet Society; at their yearly lovefests all of the major manufacturers and many of the minor ones and dealers show up with all of their horns currently up for sale. Without attending these for five or six years back in the 1980's, I never would have had an Ab clarinet experience (not that it was worth it, mind you).

Regarding the basset horn and basset clarinet, unless you are planning to get into obscure Mozart stuff, I'd not sweat it if I "missed out" on either one. As detailed above, the basset horn is part (albeit a very, very small part) of the classical "rep", and 99.9999999% of clarinet players will never rub up against a need to use one. Put another way, I'd buy a bass sax before I'd bother with a basset horn.

The basset clarinet was "redeveloped" when the controversy over the "original" form of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto was being resolved back in the 1970's. At that point, both Selmer and Leblanc started offering (on special order at that time) a "basset' clarinet, which was nothing more than an A clarinet with an extended lower joint to descend all the way down to low C. Lots of extra weight, a very different "center of gravity", and not at all the sort of thing for anyone but a clarinet specialist (or a clarinet nut; there are a few of those as well) to be owning. Put another way, I am an indifferent oboe player at the very best, but I would shell out money on a professional English horn before I would worry about a basset clarinet.

But, if you are intent upon the basset experience, this year's conference of the ICS (which is going to be either in Kansas City or Saint Louis) is an excellent, centrally located opportunity to do so. While visiting the vendor's showroom, you'll also get to have the unique experience of hearing fifty clarinet players (almost all soprano, nat?rlich) playing at once, all on a different tune.
I draw the line at owning/playing Eb, C, Bb, A soprano, alto, and bass clarinets. My hubby has a contrabass clarinet (Leblanc paperclip) that should be fun to play, but I probably wouldn't have bought it.
I met Don once. I'm pretty sure he can't play clarinet but if he did I see him as an Alto Clarinet kind of guy. :D
Basset hounds have been living down the similar name for many, many years...

The tone of a well-played basset horn (and it is not the same as playing a clarinet, being more akin to a bass clarinet in that regard) is worth hearing for a while, but it lacks the character of a soprano or bass clarinet. Perhaps this is why it has slipped in relative obscurity.

There is, however, a very active basset horn community out there, with a Professor McColl at a west coast college being one of the salient members. So, the thing does have its partisans.
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