Clarinet range

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motet
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Clarinet range

Post by motet » Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:09 pm

Orchestration books give the top of the clarinet's range all the way up to written C, four ledger lines above the staff. But one seldom sees things written this high. How practical are those notes? Is it possible to play them softly, or only loudly.

Re: Clarinet range

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David Ward
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Re: Clarinet range

Post by David Ward » Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:26 pm

Are you referring to the high written C five ledger lines & a space above the stave?

I think most professional clarinettists can play that high, but not quietly which I suspect is well nigh impossible. I'm not sure I've ever written the high C, but I've quite a few times written the high B flat, always very loud.
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motet
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Re: Clarinet range

Post by motet » Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:58 pm

Right--five ledger lines. Thanks.

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Re: Clarinet range

Post by RMK » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:18 am

I think any thing up to A is practical. Above that it is possible, but can be dicey in terms of intonation and blend. That being said, check out the last note of Enescu's first Romanian Rhapsody. Perfect place for a high C!

There is also a high C in Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica, and Bourgeois Gentilhomme uses a B-flat in several places.

I've actually seen higher notes: Ginastera's Variaciones Concertantes goes up to C-sharp (or D, if you play the part on the A clarinet, which is common). I once played a David Brubeck piece that went up to D (for both clarinets!) and Peter Maxwell Davies has written up to E-flat (although in a solo setting).

The highest note I remember seeing is an A a sixth above high C in a solo piece by William O. Smith.

BTW, it is absolutely possible to play a high C softly. Not all that difficult if you have a good set-up.

That all being said, would I recommend you use it in one of your (excellent) reductions? Probably not.

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motet
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Re: Clarinet range

Post by motet » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:32 am

Thanks. The spot in question goes up to an A, but even then I worry about the blend. I'll have to experiment, I guess.

(P.S. it's not really a "Solo." Just means "Cl. I".)
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Re: Clarinet range

Post by FwL » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:47 am

I'm pretty much a beginner on the instrument, and I can get a fairly reliable A, in tune and medium dynamics. I would think anybody with any experience could hit A without breaking a sweat.
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Re: Clarinet range

Post by David Ward » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:16 am

RMK wrote:… … … and Peter Maxwell Davies has written up to E-flat (although in a solo setting). … … …
 
Was that one of the pieces he wrote for the late Alan Hacker? Alan played one or two pieces of mine, including in 1976 my most extreme theatrical piece The Death of Ferdia which he genuinely seemed to like rather more than I think I did!
RMK wrote:BTW, it is absolutely possible to play a high C softly. Not all that difficult if you have a good set-up. … … …
I believe you, but I don't expect to write a soft high C. High clarinets can be quite penetrating.
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Re: Clarinet range

Post by RMK » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:33 pm

David Ward wrote: Was that one of the pieces he wrote for the late Alan Hacker? Alan played one or two pieces of mine, including in 1976 my most extreme theatrical piece The Death of Ferdia which he genuinely seemed to like rather more than I think I did!
I believe so. It is called Hymnos.

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