The Anatomy of the Clarinet

The clarinet is a single reed woodwind instrument. It is usually straight bodied with a flared bell, although some types of clarinet such as the bass have a different design. There are a number of components that make up the clarinet and each plays an important role in how the instrument works: 

Reed: The reed is a thin strip of material mounted in the mouthpiece which when vibrated creates the clarinets sound. Clarinet reeds are usually made from cane, although other materials such a plastic do get used. The clarinet reeds vary in rigidity and will be chosen depending on the ability of the player, a beginner clarinetist is more likely to use a softer reed whereas an advance clarinetist will use a more rigid reed. 

Mouthpiece: The clarinet mouthpiece houses the reed and it is here that the clarinets sound is created. The vibrations made in the mouthpiece are sent through the instrument. Mouthpieces are usually made from rubber or plastic, although some other materials have been used.

Ligature: The ligature holds the reed in place in the mouthpiece. Ligatures are usually made of metal and are adjustable using small screws.

Barrel: The clarinet barrel connects the mouthpiece to the body of the instrument. The barrel is also used to fine tune the instrument.

Barrel Ring: The barrel rings are thin rings of metal around the barrel. On some clarinets they are purely aesthetic but on others they play a vital role. The barrel rings constrict the ends of the barrel and stop pressure from the tenon and cork from splitting the barrel.

Upper Joint: The upper joint of the clarinet holds the keys for the left hand.

Bridge Key: The bridge key connects the key system from the upper joint to the lower joint. 

Tone Holes: The tone holes are the holes in the body of the clarinet. The player can cover or uncover the tone holes to change the pitch.

Keys: The keys of the clarinet are used to cover and uncover the tone holes to change the pitch.

Lower Joint: The lower joint of the clarinet holds the keys for the right hand.

Bell Ring: The bell ring plays the same role as the barrel ring - it is there to stop pressure from the tenon and cork from splitting the bell. On some clarinets the bell rings has no function and is purely aesthetic.

Bell: The bell of the clarinet is the the flared section at the end of the instrument. The bell helps to project sound and improve the tone of lower notes.

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