G Clarinet

The Clarinet in G is an interesting possibility.  It is a large clarinet pitched a fourth below the written note.  This instrument is most commonly associated with Turkish and Balkan ethnic and jazz music.  Historically, this instrument was called a “Clarinet d’Amore” being pitched a minor third below the standard B-flat Clarinet.  Most original d’Amores had a bulb bell like the lower oboes.  Modern instruments do not have this feature.

All G Clarinets (save for those custom made by makers like Stephen Fox) are in the Albert system.  This means that most clarinetists will have to learn a new fingering system in order to play the instrument.  I myself have recently picked up the instrument and am facing those challenges currently.  That said, once the challenge of learning the new system is in place, the instrument can be a valuable asset.

The True Alto Clarinet

Being exactly midway between the B-flat Clarinet and the E-flat Alto Clarinet, the nomenclature of the instrument can be somewhat ambiguous.  In all honesty, the G feels like a true alto voice.  It’s a bit huskier than the B-flat, but not as much as the E-flat Alto.  Due to it’s small bore, the same as the B-flat, it feels and plays almost like a true, small-bore Basset Horn.  In fact,  at one time Basset Horns were pitched in G as well as F.  The original draft of the Mozart Concerto was for Basset Horn in G.

If we call this an Alto Clarinet, then I really feel that the current E-flat Alto Clarinet should be renamed as the Tenor Clarinet (which is its old English name).

Usage

The G Clarinet can have several uses.  One, it can bolster or replace the lowest B-flat/A Clarinet parts.  I can also serve as an independent solo voice.  When a composer wants the darker sound of the A Clarinet, use the G instead.  There is minimal to no difference between the B-flat and the A, but there is a substantial difference between the B-flat and the G.

The added range to a sounding B2 gives a few extra notes that are not available to either the B-flat or the A.

Below are a few videos of myself fumbling around in my new Chinese-made G Clarinet.  These should not be taken as professional playing, but as a rough outline.  Note, I am still struggling with the instrument.

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4 thoughts on “G Clarinet

  1. Pingback: The Instrumentarium – Episode 1 – Ramblings on the Alto Clarinet – Bandestration

  2. Raymond

    Your website is so informative!! Ive been envisioning a more fleshed out wind ensemble for a decade now. I call in the Wind Consortium(A collection of instrumental consorts, each group having more extension above and below their normal wind band tessitura.) It would be awesome to have someone to discuss this with!! Also,(I hope this is not offensive to you) I had no idea how handsome you were when I first found your website. You seem to be the perfect “storm” of band geek, visionary, woodwindist(another term Id love to see circulate!) and adorable to boot!!

  3. Pingback: Episode 4 – Air on the G Clarinet – Bandestration

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