Piccolo Clarinet

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The piccolo clarinet, also referred to as the A-flat clarinet, is a woodwind instrument that is the smallest and highest of pitch in the clarinet family of instruments. This aerophone uses keys to produce sound that is a minor seventh higher than the most common Bb concert clarinet. It also measures just over half of its size.
History of the Piccolo Clarinet
The piccolo clarinet has a history that dates back to the 17th century when German instrument maker Johann Cristoph Denner invented and patented the design for the first clarinet in the late 17th century and compositions for this instrument began to appear in the early 18th century. Woodwind instruments including the chalumeau were already in widespread use, however this new instrument featured an alto key register that allowed the clarinet to cover more than two octaves. Other instrument makers later added metal keys and the clarinet was quickly adopted by composers in the 18th century like Mozart and Beehthoven. Composers such as Hector Berlioz popularised that Eb clarinet in his compositions that has been referred to as a piccolo clarinet, which helped to make the instrument a staple of orchestras at the time. It’s not known when the Ab flat piccolo clarinet emerged as it has never been adopted by modern orchestras and the small, delicate keys make it difficult to play.The Ab piccolo clarinet is a rare instrument even today but it is made by some famous clarinet makers including The United States woodwind instrument maker: Le Blanc.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£190 - £650

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How to Play

A wind instrument played by blowing air into a mouthpiece and covering the tone holes to change the pitch of the sound produced.

In Popular Music

The piccolo clarinet can be heard in the score for 'West Side Story' by Leonard Bernstein. The high frequency of the piccolo clarinet can also sometimes be heard playing classic music like Alessandro Marcello's concerto for oboe and strings in D minor, also "The Firebird Suite" by Igor Stravinsky.

Famous Players

Anton Stadler, Hans Deinzer

Close Relations

Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Video Credit: Giovanni Di Lorenzo
Understanding the Piccolo Clarinet




19th century






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