Clarinet [clarionet, clarinette]
- Albert R. Rice
A woodwind instrument of essentially cylindrical bore, played with a single reed, and made in a variety of sizes and tonalities. It is the main melody instrument in bands, an important orchestral woodwind, and is widely played in popular, jazz, and klezmer music. The clarinet pitched in B♭ with Boehm-system keywork is the most widely used today. Two other key systems—one developed by Oskar Oehler, and the Reform-Boehm (a combination of Boehm-system keywork with the Oehler-system bore and finger hole sizes) developed by Fritz Wurlitzer—are used by a few modern players.
The first documented appearance of the instrument was in Germany in 1710. In America, clarinets were used in British military bands as early as 1758; the earliest advertisement offering clarinets for sale appeared in the New York Gazette in 1761. By 1772 a Philadelphia maker, Jacob Anthony, Sr., advertised that he made clarinets and other wind instruments; two of his clarinets, in boxwood with five keys, dating from about ...