What are the Parts of a Clarinet?

Lisas Clarinet Shop

The clarinet is comprised of five parts from top to bottom: the mouthpiece, barrel, upper joint, lower joint, and bell. Each part is fitted and aligned to one another in this order by four cork-covered tenons that hold the five parts of the clarinet tightly together. The following is a guide about the anatomy of the clarinet.

Mouthpiece – The mouthpiece is the top part of the clarinet, which holds the reed and has an opening for air to pass through the instrument. The reed is a thin strip of cane that is mounted on the table of the mouthpiece and held in place by an adjustable metal band called the ligature. The space between the reed and the mouthpiece tip where air enters the instrument is called the tip opening. When air travels through the instrument, the reed vibrates, producing the clarinet’s sound. There are dozens of different makes and styles of mouthpieces for clarinet that can either be made out of plastic or hard rubber. There are also mouthpieces made out of metal, glass and wood. For more information: https://lisasclarinetshop.com/2020/05/25/how-to-choose-a-clarinet-mouthpiece/

Barrel – The barrel connects the mouthpiece and the upper joint together and shapes and directs sound through the instrument. The barrel’s taper, weight, and material all contribute to the effect it has on a clarinet’s sound. Barrel rings constrict the ends of the barrel so that the pressure of the tenon corks don’t split it.

Upper & Lower Joints – The upper joint is the first major part of the clarinet’s body and is assembled with the lower joint, the second main component. These joints, when connected, together make up the body of the instrument. Both of these joints contain keys, which serve to cover and uncover the tone holes of the instrument. Clarinet keys are small, round, padded metal rings, covers, and levers that are mounted on metal rods.

The tone holes are simply openings in the clarinet that can be covered or uncovered by the player. The keys cover and uncover tone holes in a variety of combinations to produce notes. There is a register key located on the upper joint that makes it possible to play a twelfth, which involves pressing the key with the left thumb. This is considered a defining feature of the modern clarinet.

As the player sends air through the instrument, the different keys from the upper and lower joint can be pressed down to produce a combination of different notes and pitches. The manufacturer’s logo and serial number are typically found on the upper joint of the clarinet.

Bell – The bell is the last part of the clarinet, and is attached to the lower joint where the sound projects. The bell can come in different lengths, weights, bores, flares, and materials. Similar to the barrel, there is a bell ring that constricts the top end of the bell so the tenon doesn’t split the wood. The bell ring is a thin strip of metal that is often seen as a band on the upper end of the clarinet bell. There are also clarinet bells that do not have a bell ring.

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