Bass Clarinet

Larger and differently shaped than the standard clarinets, the bass clarinet has a darker timbre that composers often exploit for expressions of gloom and doom, as Mahler does in his Sixth Symphony.

Instrument: Bass Clarinet

In this film, Laurent Ben Slimane introduces his instrument - the bass clarinet. Why not download our iPad app, 'The Orchestra', to learn even more? Visit www.philharmonia.co.uk/app for more information.

The Philharmonia's Principal Bass Clarinet's Chair endowed by Philip and Judy Green.

For more information on Chair Endowments, please visit: http://www.philharmonia.co.uk/support/individual/chair_endowment

However, the bass clarinet also shares the higher clarinets' wood-rich glow and can provide a satisfyingly comforting sound. Like a saxophone (which was influenced by the earlier bass clarinet), the instrument has a metal upturned bell and a curved metal crook to which the mouthpiece is attached, but it retains the maple-wood body. Another adjective that gets applied to the bass clarinet is goblin-esque - for its startlingly subtle dynamic control.

Fact File

Did you know?

One of the earliest solo passages for bass clarinet occurs in Mercadante's 1834 opera Emma d'Antiochia,

Frequency Range

69 - 932 Hz

Tube Length

132 cm