Parts Of The Clarinet And Their Functions Part 2


What Are The Parts Of A Clarinet?

In the “Parts Of The Clarinet And Their Functions Part 1”, we have discussed the part that has to do with the mouthpiece section of the clarinet. To have a proper understanding of the section, you can quickly go back and browse through the part by clicking HERE. And as said, every part of the clarinet is important and useful in the overall performance of the instrument. For instance, the mouthpiece generates the sound while keys varying the sound to a different pitch. Other parts have their function as well.

So, we need to take care of all the parts of our clarinet and ensure they are in a good state for every performance. Specifically, in this part, we will look into the body section of the clarinet. And these are Barrel, upper joint, lower joint, keys, and the bell as shown below.

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Parts_Of_The_Clarinet_And_Their_Functions_Part 2

The barrel is part of the clarinet that connects the mouthpiece to the body of the instrument and it is also called a socket. It was originally integral to the upper section of the clarinet and later became separated. The barrel can be used to fine-tune the instrument and it greatly impacts the tone, response, projection, and every other aspect of a clarinet’s performance. For this reason, what may seem to be the best clarinet at refurbishing may just simply have the best barrel, and perhaps the best bell.

Clarinet Barrel

The taper is the inside shape of the barrel and it can be standard, straight, reverse, or double. The standard taper is a little bit wider at the bottom than the top. On the other hand, the size of a straight taper is the same on both sides. Reverse taper has the opposite configuration of the standard taper with a top opening that is somewhat wider than the bottom. Contrarily, a double taper is unusual and it has the center that is smaller than both sides. Of course, the shape of the barrel and the choice of the wood used affects the quality of sound it generates.

ALSO READ: Types of the Clarinet and their uniqueness
The Keys

Keys are the silver rings we press to cover the holes in clarinet in order to change the pitch of the sound we generate by blowing through the reed. In order words, we produce musical notes from clarinet with our fingers on the keys.

Actually, the key is employed in varying the pitch of the sound produced by a clarinet. By pushing the silver “rings” and covering the holes the instrument produces different sounds of different pitches. For instance, if you blow through the clarinet without pressing down any key, you will play the pitch of G. On the order hand, if you blow and press the first ring on the upper joint, for example, you are playing a pitch of E. Thus keys are essential parts of the clarinet in playing true music and melody.

Clarinet Key system

However, for the effectiveness of the key in producing a sound of absolute pitch, the tone-hole needs to be closed tightly without leaving room for air to pass through. In addition, it should not allow air to flow freely when in an opening position. In order to achieve this little possible airflow resistance when the key is open, key-pad is used. Key-pad will at least open to one-third of the tone-holes’ diameter in distance. Also, the action of the keys as it opens and closes should be smooth and silent.

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The keys are made from metal, usually German silver (that is a white alloy of nickel, zinc, and copper) for the levers and cups, with steel springs. Most often, the metal parts are covered with a thin silver layer (takes some effort to keep shiny), sometimes nickel or gold is used. The gold look is absolutely different but it’s expensive and also good for gliding.

On the clarinet, we still have special keys like bridge key and register key. They were discussed below along with the pad used on the key known as key pads.

I. Key Pads

The keypad is a small disc covered with a soft material that ensures that the key seals the tone-hole properly. This is the same when we use our fingers to close the tone hole airtight and noiseless. Pad cups are also known as key cups. Inside every clarinet, the key cup is a pad. Each pad must touch the tone hole at every point of the compass, with a first light touch. The keypads of the clarinet are commonly made of soft material like leather, cardboard, and felt. However, the elastic material like silicone and other synthetic material has been in use now.

Key pad
II. The Bridge Key

This is the key that connects the clarinet’s key system from the upper joint to the lower joints. The Upper joint has the bridge key which is closer to the D key. The bridge key on the upper joint is connected in such a way that its rides above its companion key on the lower joint. Connecting the bridge key correctly is very important as well as need to avoid over adjusted and under adjusted.

III. Register Key

Of course, there is a special key called the register key on the clarinet. The register key is a long key situated at the back of the clarinet just above the tone ring produces the not F. it causes the note to be played 12th notes higher. That means you low B-flat note fingering will play the higher F note when you press the register key. The register key is also known as the vent key and the left thumb is used to play it.

Register Key
Barrel Ring

The barrel ring is a metal ring that connects the mouthpiece to the upper half of the instrument. It may be purely aesthetic or they might not be there at all. The barrel rings tighten and make the ends of the barrel narrower. Also, it prevents pressure that is coming from the tenon and cork from pulling the barrel apart. However, the material used, either black nickel, silver, or gold, for the rings and the way the finishes were crafted have a noteworthy impression on the sonority and the sensation perceived by the musician.

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The Upper Joint

The upper joint is the clarinet’s midsection. Specifically, it is the section below the barrel and above the lower-joint. And on it are some of the keyholes and metal keys for the left hand. Moreover, it is the upper half of the clarinet (without register key plays Bb-C).

Clarinet Upper joint and lower joint
The Lower Joint

The lower joint is the section directly below the upper joint and above the bell of a clarinet. It shares some of the metal keys with the upper joint and holds the keys and keyholes for the right hand. The lower half of the clarinet plays lower notes without the register key.

The upper side of the back of the lower joint stations the thumb rest that reinforces the whole weight of the instrument. Thumb rest is designed with a surface that prevents slipping and accommodates a positive grip when the instrument is playing. You place the thumb under the clarinet thumb rest just over the first knuckle of the thumb

NOTE: The upper joint and lower joints come together in assembly to form the body of the clarinet. The Upper and Lower Joints could be made from one piece but having them separate makes cleaning and transport much easier.

The Bell

The bell is the widely flared end of a clarinet. It is located on the bottom of the instrument and is named after a musical bell. Besides the uncovered holes, the bell is the clarinet part where the majority of the air escapes. In order to confirm the air coming out of the bell, you can place your hand under the bell while someone is blowing of playing the instrument. Obviously, you will feel the pressure of the air the player is generating to propel the sound of the clarinet out. The larger clarinets like the alto and the bass clarinet have a metal bell that curves and point up.

Clarinet Bells (The curve metal is for bass clarinet)

The bell is also one of the components of the clarinet that improve the quality of the clarinet’s tone. Also, it shares some functionality with the barrel. On the contrary, the amplification of the sound is not by the bell in any way as most people believe. However, the bell enhances the stability of the tone of the lowest note a clarinet produced in each register.

ALSO READ: Parts Of The Clarinet And Their Functions Part 1

At Phamox Music, we go all out for exactness and honesty. For this purpose, if by any means you found any possible glitch, be it factual, editorial or something that we need to update, kindly contact us.


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