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 plays notes an octave below the soprano B♭ Clarinet.
Bass clarinets also exist in other keys, notably C and A, but are very rare (in contrast to the regular A clarinet, which is quite common in classical music). Bass clarinets regularly perform in orchestras, wind ensembles/concert bands, occasionally in marching bands, and play an occasional solo role in contemporary music and jazz in particular.
There is an even lower-pitched clarinet called the contrabass clarinet, and a slightly higher-pitched clarinet (but lower-pitched than a Bb soprano) called the alto clarinet.
Someone who plays a bass clarinet is called a bass clarinetist.
As portrayed in Hibike! Euphonium
There are two bass clarinet players in the Kitauji Concert Band:
- Hitoshi Usui - Principal Bass Clarinet
- Jyunko Koshigawa
- Bass clarinet parts are typically not divided into first, second, or third parts, unlike B♭ clarinets.
- Bass clarinetists in school bands are stereotyped to be "losers" who only switched to bass clarinet because they could not compete in the soprano clarinet section. This is typically true; the lowest-ranking players are usually relegated to bass clarinet in school bands. However, this is not the case in professional wind bands and orchestras. In these ensembles, bass clarinetists audition separately for their jobs from soprano clarinetists.