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440
CLARINET

the reed, and a tongue has been detached just under the joint; there are six finger-holes and one for the thumb. An instrument almost identical with the above, but with a rudimentary bell, and showing plainly the detached tongue, is figured by Jost Amman in 1589.[1] A plate in Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie[2] shows a less primitive instrument, outwardly cylindrical and having a separate mouthpiece joint and a clarinet reed but no keys. A chalumeau without keys, but consisting apparently of three joints—mouthpiece, main tube and bell,—is figured on the title-page of a musical work[3] dated 1690; it is very similar to the one represented in fig. 3, except that only six holes are visible.

In his biographical notice of J. Christian Denner (1655–1707), J. G. Doppelmayr[4] states that at the beginning of the 18th century “Denner invented a new kind of pipe, the so-called clarinet, which greatly delighted lovers of music; he also made great improvements in the stock or rackett-fagottos, known in the olden time and finally also in the chalumeaux.” It is probable that the improvements in the chalumeau to which Doppelmayr alludes without understanding them consisted (a) in giving the mouthpiece the shape of a beak and adding a separate reed tongue as in that of the modern clarinet, unless this change had already taken place in the Netherlands, the country which the unremitting labours of E. van der Straeten[5] have revealed as taking the lead in Europe from the 14th to the 16th century in the construction of musical instruments of all kinds; (b) in the boring of two additional holes for A and B near the mouthpiece and covering them with two keys; (c) in replacing the long cylindrical mouthpiece joint by a bulb, thus restoring one of the characteristic features of the tibia,[6] known as the ὅλμοσ. There are a few of these improved chalumeaux in existence, two being in the Bavarian national museum at Munich, the one in high A, in a bad state of preservation, the second in C, marked J. C. Denner, of which V. Mahillon has made a facsimile[7] for the museum of the Brussels Conservatoire. There are two keys and eight holes; the first consists of two small holes on the same level giving a semitone if only one be closed. If the thumb-key be left open, the sounds of the fundamental scale (shown in the black notes below) rise a twelfth to form the second register (the white notes)

Britannica Clarinet Fundamental Scale and Second Register.jpg

This early clarinet or improved chalumeau has a clarinet mouthpiece, but no bulb; it measures 50 cm. (20 in.), whereas the one in A mentioned above is only 28 cm. in length, the long cylindrical tube between mouthpiece and key-joint, afterwards turned into the bulb, being absent. Mahillon was probably the first to point out that the so-called invention of the clarinet by J. C. Denner consisted in providing a device—the speaker-key—to facilitate the production of the harmonics of the fundamental. Can we be sure that the same result was not obtained on the old chalumeau before keys were added, by partially uncovering the hole for the thumb?

The Berlin museum possesses an early clarinet with two keys, marked J. B. Oberlender, derived from the Snoeck collection. Paul de Wit’s collection has a similar specimen by Enkelmer. The Brussels Conservatoire possesses clarinets with two keys by Flemish makers, G. A. Rottenburgh and J. B. Willems[8]; the latter, with a small bulb and bell, is in G a fifth above the C clarinet. The next improvements in the clarinet, made in 1720, are due to J. Denner, probably a son of J. C. Denner. They consisted in the addition of a bell and in the removal of the speaker-hole and key nearer the mouthpiece, involving the reduction of the diameter of the hole. The effect of this change of position was to turn the B♮ into B♭, for J. Denner introduced into the hole, nearly as far as the axis of the bore, a small metal drainage tube[9] for the moisture of the breath. In the modern clarinet, the same result is attained by raising this little tube slightly above the surface of the main tube, placing a key on the top of it, and bending the lever. In order to produce the missing B♮, J. Denner lengthened the tube and pierced another hole, the low E, covered by an open key with a long lever which, when closed, gives the desired B as its twelfth, thus forming a connexion between the two registers. A clarinet with three keys, of similar construction (about 1750), marked J. W. Kenigsperger, is preserved in the Bavarian national museum, at Munich. Another in B♭ marked Lindner[10] belongs to the collection at Brussels. About the middle of the 18th century, the number of keys was raised to five, some say[11] by Barthold Fritz of Brunswick (1697–1766), who added keys for C♯ and D♯. Britannica Clarinet C sharp and D sharp.jpg.

According to Altenburg[12] the E♭ or D♯ key is due to the virtuoso Joseph Beer (1744–1811). The sixth key was added about 1790 by the celebrated French virtuoso Xavier Lefébure (or Lefèvre), and produced G♯. Britannica Clarinet G sharp.jpg.

Britannica Clarinet Boehm.jpg
Fig. 4.—Clarinet
(Boehm model, Kluss-
mann’s patent).

Anton Stadler and his brother, both clarinettists in the Vienna court orchestra and instrument-makers, are said to have lengthened the tube of the B♭ clarinet, extending the compass down to C (real sound B♭). It was for the Stadler brothers that Mozart wrote his quintet for strings, with a fine obbligato for the clarinet in A (1789), and the clarinet concerto with orchestra in 1791.

This, then, was the state of the clarinet in 1810 when Ivan Müller, then living in Paris, carried the number of keys up to thirteen, and made several structural improvements already mentioned, which gave us the modern instrument and inaugurated a new era in the construction and technique of the clarinet. Müller’s system is still adopted in principle by most clarinet makers. The instrument was successively improved during the 19th century by the Belgian makers Bachmann, the elder Sax, Albert and C. Mahillon, whose invention in 1862 of the C♯ key with double action is now generally adopted. In Paris the labours of Lefébure, Buffet-Crampon, and Goumas are pre-eminent. In 1842 H. E. Klosé conceived the idea of adapting to the clarinet the ingenious mechanism of movable rings, invented by Boehm for the flute, and he entrusted the execution of this innovation to Buffet-Crampon; this is the type of clarinet generally adopted in French orchestras. From this adaptation has sprung the erroneous notion that Klosé’s clarinet was constructed according to the Boehm system; Klosé’s lateral divisions of the tube do not follow those applied by Boehm to the flute.

In England the clarinet has also passed through several progressive stages since its introduction about 1770, and first of

  1. Wappenbuch, p. 111, “Musica.”
  2. Paris, 1767, vol. v. “Planches,” pi. ix. 20, 21, 22.
  3. Dr Theofilo Muffat, “Componimenti musicali per il cembalo,” in Denkmäler d. Tonkunst in Österreich, Bd. iii.
  4. Historische Nachricht von den Nürnbergischen Mathematicis u. Künstlern, &c. (Nuremberg, 1730), p. 305.
  5. Histoire de la musique aux Pays Bas avant le XIXe siècle.
  6. For a facsimile of one of the Pompeii tibiae, see Capt. C. R. Day, op. cit. pl. iv. C. and p. 109.
  7. Catalogue descriptif (Ghent, 1896), vol. ii. p. 211, No. 911, where an illustration is given. See also Capt. C. R. Day, op. cit. pl. iv. B and Errata where the description is printed.
  8. For a description with illustration see V. Mahillon’s Catalogue descriptif (Ghent, 1896), vol. ii. p. 215, No. 916.
  9. See Wilhelm Altenburg, op. cit. p. 6.
  10. See V. Mahillon, Catal. descript. (1896), p. 213, No. 913.
  11. H. Welcker von Gontershausen, Die musikalischen Tonwerkzeuge (Frankfort-on-Main, 1855), p. 141.
  12. Op. cit. p. 6.