From here down you’ve got the instrument itself which is made usually from African Black Wood, it’s a very dark wood. They can be made from plastic and are often, but the wood is a special sound I think, more mellow. This is the upper joint. The upper joint, lower joint. So now having put my barrel back on I can show you that it joins to the next bit which is the top joint, it fits in the middle, nice and neat. Quite an important part of the clarinet because on the back of it we have a crucial key, which is called a register key, and its that key when you press it, it takes you from just being able to play the normal natural register of the instrument up into a sort of super high register (demonstrates).
The key system actually looks quite a bit more complicated than it really is. When it comes to it you’ve still got a hole for each finger, and the complication comes when you come to the little fingers. In order for the clarinet to play what I think is perhaps some of its most beauteous register is to take it down an extra four semi-tones from the lowest finger, as it were, which would be perhaps that finger. You can then obviously not exactly reach down to that hole if there was a hole down there, so in order to do that, a little extension on the keys which means when I press that there, it can press the holes down there. So without too much effort I can reach down. That’s one of the best registers of the clarinet really (plays the low register) so that’s quite fun.
For all the chromatics to make the chromatics work properly again there is a whole set of keys on the side here and you need those holes for the chromatic scale, but actually you couldn’t sort of play them without moving your fingers round there. So the keys, they are actually nestling very comfortably and very closely to where my fingers sit, it’s the little fingers that get busy really, most if the time and as I was saying before about the register key, you couldn’t possibly get your thumb up there and back successfully, you need a hole open there so you need a long finger and all that does is that. Its quite clever really, looks more complicated than it is.So here is a chromatic scale which shows you the full range of the instrument and hopefully to see a lot of the keys and buttons in operation (plays).
On the very bottom is the bell, no surprise with the name there, but actually the shape does have a function, unlike, I’m told the bell of the oboe is egg shaped for no reason at all, but this does, well apart from the pitch if you heard it without (plays clarinet without the bell) actually it doesn’t sound too bad does it? Certainly on the bottom note (plays bottom notes without the bell) it becomes a little bit raspy and the cone shape, it actually continues really the shape, its fatter here than it is down there so it continues that idea, perhaps it is partly picturesque certainly helps the pitch, still the pitch is involved there you wouldn’t get that bottom E because the last hole is there, that wouldn’t be the right pitch without that extension and I think that just helps the acoustics.