Clarinets are a family of woodwind instruments. A clarinet has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight cylindrical tube with an approximately cylindrical bore, and a flaring bell. A person who plays any type of clarinet is called a clarinetist or clarinettist.
The term clarinet now normally refers to the B♭ clarinet, the most commonly used type of clarinet used in concert bands, though other common clarinets are the bass clarinet and E♭ clarinet, both of which the Kitauji concert band uses.
In the concert band setting, the principal clarinetist is typically responsible for providing a tuning pitch for the band (normally the role of the oboe in a symphony orchestra). The three most common tuning pitches clarinetists may provide are a concert B♭ (as given by Hirone Torizuka), an A, and/or and F.
In many concert bands, the principal clarinetist is the equivalent of the concertmaster or concertmistress in a symphony orchestra. They are the second most significant person in the band after the conductor, and are typically ranked highest out of all the section principals in terms of group pecking order. Some bands recognize the principal clarinetist with a separate stage entrance, during which they bow to the audience and tune the band before the conductor's entrance.
Just as the principal clarinetist is the concert band equivalent of an orchestral concertmaster, the clarinet section functions as the equivalent of the violin section in concert band literature. They have the widest range of notes in the entire band, similar to the range of a violin section, and are central to the warmth of the band's overall sound.
A typical B♭ clarinet section in a concert band can range from as few as 6 clarinets to as many as 30, and bass clarinets usually number between 1 and 4. The B♭ clarinets are divided into three parts-- firsts, seconds, and thirds-- in a pyramid ranking with more thirds than seconds, and more seconds than firsts.
Since the middle of the 19th century the bass clarinet (nowadays invariably in B♭ but with extra keys to extend the register down a few notes) has become an essential addition to the orchestra and wind band.
Today, the clarinet is commonly used in classical music (such as concert bands, orchestras, chamber music, and solo repertoire), military bands, marching bands, klezmer, and jazz.
As portrayed in Hibike! EuphoniumThere are 11 students who play clarinet and 2 students who play bass clarinet in Kitauji's concert band, including:
- Maina Kase- Designated E♭ Clarinet
- Hirone Torizuka - Principal B♭ Clarinet
- Hisae Takano
- Hiyoko Ueda
- Youko Matsuzaki - Principal 2nd
- Sugami Tanaka
- Sakiko Suzuka
- Shoko Ogiwara - Principal 3rd
- Rie Shima
- Hitoshi Usui - Principal Bass Clarinet
- Chieri Takahisa
- Junko Koshigawa - Bass Clarinet
- Yumina Ohkuchi
- Clarinetists are very careful about their reeds- a thin and fragile sliver of cane that is vital to the tone production of the instrument. Clarinetists are so careful about their reeds that they are often teased for being obsessed with their reeds. For a clarinetist, the greatest tragedy is the destruction of their favorite reed.
- The clarinet is the only other instrument in the concert band other than the trombone capable of smooth sliding across wide intervals, as demonstrated in the famous Rhapsody in Blue clarinet solo.
- Clarinetists are usually stereotyped as being very cliquey or very weird in the band, usually with the exception of the section leader. To some degree, Hibike! Euphonium stays true to this stereotype; the clarinet section in the transition slide is the only section with bizarre things, like a model planet and a sock puppet.