Sopranino Clarinet in A-flat – More commonly used in Europe and Australia as a part of their military band. This type of clarinet is very rare and considered a collector’s item by some.
Johann Christoph Denner (Nuremburg) and his son, Jacob are attributed to innovating the speaker key which gave the clarinet a larger register. The clarinet overblows at the 12th, the other woodwind instruments overblow at the octave. So, when you play with the thumb and first three fingers of the left hand without the speaker key, you sound the note C. When you add the speaker key, you do not get a C an octave higher, you sound a G, which is the interval of a twelfth. Because of his improvements of the chalumeau J C Denner is said to be the inventor of the clarinet.
The clarinet is individual in the shape of its bore, as well. While almost every other woodwind instrument has a conical bore the clarinet has a cylindrical bore–it doesn’t flare, even though the bell of the clarinet gives that impression. This is why the clarinet overblows at the twelfth and is so laden with overtones, which contributes to its unique sound.
In the late 1700′s, many improvements were made to the clarinet–more keys were added and the tone holes were experimented with–different cuts and such. Iwan Muller (German) developed a thirteen keyed model. This clarinet remained in favor until the late 1800′s.
Klose and Buffet adapted the Boehm (flute) fingering system to the clarinet ca. 1839-1843. This system is the one most common today, although there are other fingering systems in use such as the Albert and Auler (mostly in Germany.)
The basset horn is a type of clarinet usually pitched in F. This was the instrument which Mozart composed his Clarinet Concerto and Quintet. His friend, Anton Stadler was a virtuosic basset hornist and Mozart fell in love with the mellow, dark tone of the clarinet.
Some of the more notable works for the clarinet are Mozart’s Concerto and the Quintet, Brahms’ Two Sonatas Op. 120 and his Quintet. The clarinet’s tone is really very complimentary to strings and vice-versa.
Some noted performers are Anton Stadler (late 1700′s), Richard Muhlfield (mid-to-late 1800′s) and more recently Stanley Drucker (principle of the NY Phil) Richard Stoltzman (freelance soloist) Larry Combs (principle of Chicago Sym.) James Pyne (noted pedagogue at Ohio State Univ.) Anthony Gigliotti (principle of Philadelphia and pedagogue at Temple Univ.) and Jon Manasse, young soloist, faculty at Eastman and recording artist.
Eddie Daniels, Pete Fountain, Benny Goodman and Woody Herman are probably the most famous of the jazz players.