Monday, June 8, 2015

What Kind of Music Suits the Clarinet?

The clarinet’s versatility makes it an ideal instrument for several genres of music. The most popular genres use the clarinet because of its flexibility, virtuosity and ability to play in the extremes of the instrument’s range. It is a core member of the orchestra and blends well with woodwind, brass and string instruments.

Jazz


Clarinets appear regularly in jazz ensembles. The laid-back nature of the instrument allows the clarinet to play with ease and nuance. These characteristics make it suitable for playing extended solos and complex passages as the jazz ensemble works through modulations resulting in key changes.

A famous type of jazz music, called Dixieland jazz, features the clarinet prominently. Dixieland jazz consists of a soloist that presents a melody while other players follow the lead and improvise the melody. Dixieland jazz originated in New Orleans and spread throughout the United States.

Classical


Classical orchestras wouldn’t be complete without a substantial clarinet section. The clarinets serve to reinforce the flutes. Many composers will use clarinets to blend two disparate sections, such as the brass and strings. The clarinet’s ability to blend with most any instrument it plays with is a valuable asset to the orchestra.

Clarinets serve as strong melodic and harmonic instruments when used as a section. Mozart used the clarinet extensively in several of his orchestral works.

Popular


Popular music uses the clarinet for background music and solos. “The Beatles” used the clarinet extensively in songs. Two famous examples include “When I'm Sixty Four” and “Here Comes the Sun.” The clarinet’s smooth tone and texture lends itself well to rock and popular music.

Another famous group by the name of Muse wrote a song for bass clarinet solo titled “I belong to you.” Small popular bands find that the clarinet is a suitable addition to the standard orchestration of guitar, voice and percussion.

Klezmer


Klezmer music’s roots go back to the immigrants to the United States in 1880. The genre was initiated in Eastern Europe but the commonly known music that goes by the name of Klezmer music wasn't initiated until musicians emigrated to the United States. Klezmer music is ideal for the clarinet and features the clarinet in solo passages along with a keyboard instrument known as the dulcimer, violin, viola, bass, small drum and sometimes included flute and trumpet.

References


Virginia Tech: Clarinet [http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/textc/Clarinet.html]

Shlomomusic; Klezmer Music; Shlomo Pestcoe [http://www.shlomomusic.com/klezmer.htm]