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BASS CLARINET (Fr. clarinette basse; ...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 491 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BASS CLARINET (Fr. clarinette basse; Ger. Bass-Klarinette; Ital. darinetto basso or clarone), practically the A, Bb or C clarinet speaking an octave lower; what therefore has been said concerning the fingering, transposition, acoustic properties and general history of the clarinet (q.v.) also applies to the bass clarinet. Owing to its greater length the form of the bass clarinet differs from that of the clarinets in that the bell joint is bent up in front of the instrument, terminating in a large gloxinea-shaped bell, and that the mouthpiece is attached by means of a strong ligature and screws to a serpent-shaped crook of brass or silver. The compass of the modern orchestral bass clarinet is in the main the same as that of the higher clarinets in C, Bb and A, but an octave lower, and therefore for the bass clarinet in C is t ; for the bass clarinet in Bb the real sounds ace one tone, and for the bass clarinet in A IZ tone lower, although the notation is the same for all three. Sometimes the treble def is used in notation for the bass clarinet. It must then be understood that the instrument in C speaks an491 octave lower, the bass clarinet in Bb a'major ninth and the bass clarinet in A a minor tenth lower. The tenor clef is also frequently used in orchestral works. The quality of tone is less reedy in the bass clarinet than in the higher instruments. It resembles the bourdon stop on the organ, and in the lowest register, more especially, the tone is somewhat hollow and wanting in power although mellower than that of the bassoon. In the lowest octave the instrument speaks slowly and is chiefly used. for sustained bass or melody notes; rapid passages are impossible. The modern orchestral model may be fitted with almost every kind of key-mechanism, including the Boehm, and the degree of perfection and ingenuity attained has removed the all but insuperable difficulties which stood in the way of the original inventors who, not understanding key-work, made many futile attempts to bridge the necessarily great distance between the finger-holes by making the bore serpentine, boring the holes obliquely, &c. The low pitch of the bass clarinet (8 ft. tone) contrasted with the moderate length of the instrument—whose bore measures only some 42 to 43 inches from mouthpiece to bell, whereas that of the bassoon, an instrument of the same pitch, is twice that length—is a puzzle to many. An explanation of the fact is to be found in the peculiar acoustic properties of the cylindrical tube played by means of a reed mouthpiece characterizing the clarinet family, which acts as a closed pipe speaking an octave lower than an open pipe of the same length, and overblowing a twelfth instead. of an octave. This is more fully explained in the articles
End of Article: BASS CLARINET (Fr. clarinette basse; Ger. Bass-Klarinette; Ital. darinetto basso or clarone)
BASS (the same word as " base," and so pronounced, ...

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Bass Clarinet is the only instrument to be considered both brass and woodwind by conductors , while switching back and forth between the two constantly depending on the scenario.
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