Meri’s Musical Musings

Random notes in writing clarinet parts in composition and arranging

Posted on: January 23, 2017

When writing in the concert key of one sharp: if in G major, use the B flat clarinet; if in E minor, use the A clarinet. See the note below.

If your piece or arrangement is in concert E minor, especially if an intermediate or advanced piece, either transpose the piece, put the clarinet parts on the A clarinet, or make sure you avoid the tricky combination at the top of the second octave of the melodic minor version of the written F sharp minor on the B flat clarinet if you are going up to the top line F sharp and immediately back down.

Try to get your clarinet parts tested by a person who plays the instrument well for intermediate and advanced works.

Avoid or at least minimize sliding of the little fingers at fast tempos involving the little finger keys, especially the key that is not duplicated on most clarinets (low A flat/clarion E flat and the enharmonic)

Keep trills on the little and ring fingers short, especially the right one, particularly in beginning and intermediate level music.

Trills and tremolos to avoid:

  • low B flat to low C# (and twelfth F-G sharp)
  • low B to C sharp ( and twelfth F sharp-G sharp)
  • first space F sharp-G sharp
  • second space A flat to A
  • second space A flat to B flat
  • clarion high B flat to altissimo C sharp
  • clarion high B to altissimo C sharp
  • clarion high C to altissimo C sharp
  •  clarion high C to altissimo D
  •  clarion high C to altissimo D sharp.

Also applies to enharmonic notes.


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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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