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The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The name derives from adding the suffix -et meaning little to the Italian word clarino meaning a particular type of trumpet, as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed.


Usage and repertoire

Classical music

The orchestra frequently includes two clarinetists. In the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, and Gustav Mahler employed many different clarinets, including the ETemplate:Music or D soprano clarinets, basset horn, bass clarinet, and/or contrabass clarinet. The practice of using different clarinets to achieve tonal variety was common in 20th-century classical music.


The clarinet was a central instrument in jazz, beginning with early jazz players in the 1910s. It remained a signature instrument of the genre through much of the big band era into the 1940s. American players Alphonse Picou, Larry Shields, Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, and Sidney Bechet were all prominent early jazz clarinet players. Swing performers such as Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw rose to prominence in the late 1930s.

Beginning in the 1940s, the clarinet faded from its prominent position in jazz. By that time, an interest in Dixieland, a revival of traditional New Orleans jazz, had begun. Pete Fountain was one of the best known performers in this genre. The clarinet's place in the jazz ensemble was usurped by the saxophone, which projects a more powerful sound and uses a less complicated fingering system. The clarinet did not entirely disappear from jazz—prominent players since the 1950s include Stan Hasselgård, Jimmy Giuffre, Eric Dolphy (on bass clarinet), Perry Robinson, and John Carter. In the US, the prominent players on the instrument since the 1980s have included Eddie Daniels, Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich, Ken Peplowski, and others playing in both traditional and contemporary styles.

Other genres

The clarinet is uncommon, but not unheard of, in rock music. Jerry Martini played clarinet on Sly and the Family Stone's 1968 hit, "Dance to the Music". The Beatles included a trio of clarinets in "When I'm Sixty-Four" from their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. A clarinet is prominently featured in what a Billboard reviewer termed a "Benny Goodman-flavored clarinet solo" in "Breakfast in America", the title song from the Supertramp album of the same name.

Clarinets feature prominently in klezmer music, which employs a distinctive style of playing. The popular Brazilian music style of choro uses the clarinet, as does Albanian saze and Greek kompania folk music, and Bulgarian wedding music. In Turkish folk music, the Albert system clarinet in G is often used, commonly called a "Turkish clarinet".

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Clarinet" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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