It is fun to play the clarinet. Its fascinating sound has brought joy to many people, even to the great Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who loved it and wrote two famous compositions in which the clarinet played a leading part.
Shape of Clarinet
Most clarinets have the shape of a long, straight black tube. This tube is called a bore. However, the bass clarinet has a slightly different form. Its top bends backward, and its bottom curves upward to form a bell-shaped structure, like another instrument called the saxophone.
Material of Clarinets
Most clarinets have a wooden bore. The mpingo tree of Africa has provided the material for many clarinets. Some clarinets are made of plastics.
Mouthpiece of Clarinet
The top of the clarinet has a device called a mouthpiece. The most important part of the mouthpiece is a thin, flat structure called a reed. When the clarinet player blows into the mouthpiece, the reed vibrates. The vibrating reed causes the air in the clarinet bore to vibrate. In this way, the clarinet produces sound.
Clarinet Sound Alteration
The clarinet bore has a series of holes down its front and a single hole in back. Metal keys open and close these holes. By pressing the correct metal keys, a clarinet player can produce a sound that is higher or lower in pitch.
The clarinet belongs to a family of instruments called woodwinds. Other woodwinds are instruments called bassoons and oboes. Woodwinds are an important part of a musical group called the orchestra.
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