History of the clarinet

Olivia Longoria, Liaison Manager

The Clarinet is a small, very popular woodwind instrument that is featured mainly in classical compositions and is speckled through jazz compositions as well. The birth of the clarinet stems all the way back to the year of 1690. Specifically, January 14th, 1690, in Nurnberg, Germany. Little did the inventor Johann Christoph Denner know how the invention of the clarinet would affect large compositions and solidify solo literature and use in the music world.

The clarinet was derived from the chaumeau, a deep sounding instrument and lacked a register key therefore it was stuck in the lower octave. Johann Christoph Denner augmented the chaumeau into the first clarinet by adding a register key which allowed the clarinet to be able to play higher notes. Slowly, the clarinet replaced the use of the chaumeau after more additions to the keys (which allowed a chromatic scale to be played).

This clarinet is one of the first models dating 1760.

The clarinet soon caught the attention of Mozart and soon, the clarinet had a place in most orchestras. The clarinet was also later popularized by Beethoven and only increased its usage and position in compositions as a high wood-wind instrument. Since the 19th century, the clarinet section in the orchestra has grown significantly not only because of the increased popularity but also because of the different types of clarinets that have made their place within an orchestra.

While clarinets are no longer essential to jazz, in the beginnings of jazz featured the clarinet. This clarinet-ing started in the early years of the 20th century in New Orleans and was used by the famous musicians throughout the century such as Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. Since the clarinet held a large role in big band music, the decline of the genre led to the decline of the clarinet in jazz, too. The saxophone slowly replaced the clarinet in jazz (due to the simplicity of the saxophone’s note system) and is now closely related and associated with jazz rather than the clarinet.

Over all, the clarinet is a revolutionary instrument that shaped many compositions and paved the way of jazz music. The clarinet is now a leading instrument in today’s bands and is an extremely popular instrument in this day and age. Honestly, would recommend playing the clarinet I would give it a five-star Yelp review if I could 10/10.