Yamaha Clarinet YCL-457II-22.png
Woodwind instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification422.211.2-71
(Single-reeded aerophone with keys)
Playing range
Written range (though it is possible to play higher):
Clarinet range.svg
Related instruments

The clarinet is a musical-instrument family belonging to the group known as the woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist (sometimes spelled clarinettist).

While the similarity in sound between the earliest clarinets and the trumpet may hold a clue to its name, other factors may have been involved. During the Late Baroque era, composers such as Bach and Handel were making new demands on the skills of their trumpeters, who were often required to play difficult melodic passages in the high, or as it came to be called, clarion register. Since the trumpets of this time had no valves or pistons, melodic passages would often require the use of the highest part of the trumpet's range, where the harmonics were close enough together to produce scales of adjacent notes as opposed to the gapped scales or arpeggios of the lower register. The trumpet parts that required this specialty were known by the term clarino and this in turn came to apply to the musicians themselves. It is probable that the term clarinet may stem from the diminutive version of the 'clarion' or 'clarino' and it has been suggested that clarino players may have helped themselves out by playing particularly difficult passages on these newly developed "mock trumpets".[1]

Johann Christoph Denner is generally believed to have invented the clarinet in Germany around the year 1700 by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau. Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the tone and playability.

Today,[when?] the most popular clarinet is the B clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, just a semitone lower, is sometimes used in orchestral music, especially older European music. An orchestral clarinetist must have both a B and an A instrument available, usually in the same performance. 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. The clarinet family ranges from the (extremely rare) BBB octo-contrabass to the A piccolo clarinet. The clarinet has proved to be an exceptionally flexible instrument, equally at home in the classical repertoire as in concert bands, military bands, marching bands, klezmer, and jazz.


The word clarinet may have entered the English language via the French clarinette (the feminine diminutive of Old French clarin or clarion), or from Provençal clarin, "oboe".[2]

It would seem however that its real roots are to be found amongst some of the various names for trumpets used around the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Clarion, clarin and the Italian clarino are all derived from the medieval term claro which referred to an early form of trumpet.[3] This is probably the origin of the Italian clarinetto, itself a diminutive of clarino, and consequently of the European equivalents such as clarinette in French or the German Klarinette. According to Johann Gottfried Walther, writing in 1732, the reason for the name is that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet". The English form clarinet is found as early as 1733, and the now-archaic clarionet appears from 1784 until the early years of the 20th century.[4]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Klarinet
Alemannisch: Klarinette
አማርኛ: ክላርኔት
العربية: كلارينيت
armãneashti: Clârnetâ
asturianu: Clarinete
azərbaycanca: Klarnet
Bân-lâm-gú: O͘-ta̍t-á
беларуская: Кларнет
български: Кларинет
Boarisch: Glarinettn
bosanski: Klarinet
català: Clarinet
čeština: Klarinet
Cymraeg: Clarinét
dansk: Klarinet
Deutsch: Klarinette
eesti: Klarnet
Ελληνικά: Κλαρινέτο
español: Clarinete
Esperanto: Klarneto
euskara: Klarinete
فارسی: کلارینت
français: Clarinette
Frysk: Klarinet
Gaeilge: Clairnéid
Gàidhlig: Clàirneid
galego: Clarinete
한국어: 클라리넷
հայերեն: Կլառնետ
hrvatski: Klarinet
Bahasa Indonesia: Klarinet
interlingua: Clarinetto
íslenska: Klarínett
italiano: Clarinetto
עברית: קלרינט
Basa Jawa: Klarinet
Kabɩyɛ: Klarɩnɛɛtɩ
ქართული: კლარნეტი
қазақша: Кларнет
Кыргызча: Кларнет
Latina: Clarinetum
latviešu: Klarnete
lietuvių: Klarnetas
magyar: Klarinét
македонски: Кларинет
Bahasa Melayu: Klarinet
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ကလဲရီနက်
Nederlands: Klarinet
Nedersaksies: Klarinet
norsk: Klarinett
norsk nynorsk: Klarinett
Picard: Clérinète
polski: Klarnet
português: Clarinete
română: Clarinet
Runa Simi: Qipa pinkuyllu
русский: Кларнет
Seeltersk: Klarinätte
sicilianu: Clarinu
Simple English: Clarinet
slovenčina: Klarinet
slovenščina: Klarinet
کوردی: کلارینێت
српски / srpski: Кларинет
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Klarinet
suomi: Klarinetti
svenska: Klarinett
Tagalog: Klarinete
Türkçe: Klarnet
українська: Кларнет
Tiếng Việt: Clarinet
West-Vlams: Klarinette
Zazaki: Qırnata
中文: 單簧管