The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B ♭ clarinet, it is usually pitched in B ♭ (meaning it is a transposing instrument on which a written C sounds as B ♭ ), but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B ♭ clarinet 1. Here are some interesting facts about the bass clarinet:
History: The bass clarinet was invented by Adolphe Sax around 1830, and it is very similar to the saxophone in appearance. With a length of up to 1.30 meters, the instrument is no longer suitable for balancing on the thumb rest. Instead, a carrying strap is a good choice, or even a spike on which the clarinet can be supported while playing 2.
Unique Features: The bass clarinet has an appealing, rich, earthy and inky tone, quite distinct from other instruments in its range, drawing on and enhancing the qualities of the lower range of the soprano and alto instrument 1. The bass clarinet has a very wide range: it plays from B1 to a2 (h2). As a transposing instrument, it sounds in low B, i.e. a major second and an octave lower. Only the subcontrabass clarinet plays lower than the bass clarinet 2. The bass clarinet is fairly heavy and is supported either with a neck strap or an adjustable peg attached to its body 1.
Educational and Professional: Bass clarinets are categorized into three levels: student, intermediate, and professional. Student clarinets are usually made of plastic or a composite of rubber and plastic, while intermediate and professional clarinets will usually feature wooden or rubber materials that mimic wood clarinet tones. Wooden clarinets are the best if you want a rich sound from the instrument, so the professional clarinet wins in this category. Clarinet keys are plated with one of two metals: silver or nickel, with a few clarinets featuring Hamilton plating, which is a blend of silver and gold. Each metal type has its benefits and drawbacks and will be more common in some clarinet types over others 3.
Usage: Bass clarinets have a broad range that spans nearly 4 octaves. Most bass clarinets begin at the E-flat below the treble clef staff and can go up to the F or G an octave above the staff. Extended-range instruments can reach higher still, with a range starting at the C one octave below the staff 4. The bass clarinet has been regularly used in scoring for orchestra and concert band since the mid-19th century, becoming more common during the middle and latter part of the 20th century. A bass clarinet is not always called for in orchestra music, but is almost always called for in concert band music 1.
Special Things: The bass clarinet family is comprised of a number of similar instruments. It includes the clarinet d’amore, the basset horn, the alto clarinet, and the contra-alto/contrabass clarinet. The bass clarinet is also used in jazz and film music. The bass clarinet is often used to underline exciting passages in film music or is used in jazz 2.
Songs and Lyrics: There are many songs that feature the bass clarinet. Some of the most famous bass clarinet pieces include Georg Abraham Schneider’s two concertos (Op. 90 and op. 105) for Müller’s instrument and orchestra 2. Free sheet music for bass clarinet is available on websites such as 8notes.com and musescore.com