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I've search the web for the difference between a tremolo and trill on the clarinet. Most comments don't make a distinction between the two.

I want to make sure that I understand the difference between trill and tremolos on the soprano Bb clarinet.

If I am correct, a trill is played between two half tones) (semitones) up or down depending on the situation e.g., C - C#, C - B

Conversely, a tremolo is between two whole tones up or down depending on the situation, e.g., C - D, C -Bb, giving a flutter tone effect.


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Huh... I am thinking back years to my university days and digging through my memory banks to see what I can remember...

For wind instruments, the 2 notes for a tremolo are usually written in the music as whole notes with the abbreviation trem. between them. I think that's what I what I remember seeing. But maybe I remember it wrong. Anyone with more recent memory than mine?

For a trill--AKA a shake--you alternate between the note from the printed page, and the next one 1/2 a step up. In some cases the composer will provide the trill notes if they alternate from the established norm.

Anyone have additions, corrections, or other comments?

I am trying to remember when I saw a tremolo last. I think we all still had big hair, big shoulder pads, and questionable eye makeup. ;) :Do_O


Staff member
I think Helen nailed it. The only exception I can think of is if the note above is part of a key signature that would make it a full step. Think a trill on E in the key of G (or most any sharp key) going to F#. Again, if the composer wants something different, there should be a marking using an accidental in parentheses after the trill line.
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