The alto clarinet, extremely similar to the bassett horn, is an overlooked member of the clarinet family. Pitched in Eb (a middle C played on this clarinet sounds the same as a Eb a sixth lower on the piano) this clarinet is not to be confused with a soprano clarinet, which is sometimes called an Eb clarinet.
There is a similar instrument pitched in F, which gives us the clarinet known as a basset horn. The other difference is that the basset horn does not have a curved neck like the alto. This instrument is often played using a neck strap since it is 32 inches long.
The alto and basset horn has never really been popular with composers of any era, though Mendelssohn wrote concert pieces including the basset horn with the Bb clarinet, and it was also included in compositions by Mozart and Richard Strauss.
The alto version of the clarinet has been overlooked by modern composers for various reasons. One is that this clarinet is particularly hard to play and keep in tune. There is also the consideration that modern developments mean that the regular clarinet and bass clarinet are agile enough to cover a huge range, making the alto and basset horn obsolete.
Today the alto version of the clarinet is mainly used in military bands and clarinet-only ensembles (clarinet choirs). The basset horn is usually used in playing 18th century music on authentic instruments. Often parts originally scored for the basset horn are now played on an alto
version of the clarinet.
For more information about other services and products choose from one of the following links:
Clarinet and Piano
Find a huge selection of new clarinet music. Leave the old habits and explore some new composers. Build a fresh repertoire.
For starters and advanced players. Everybody has to practice!
Modern works, ready to perform on stage. Great for your concerts!
Music for clarinet groups and clarinet choir
A lot of new enthusiastic groups and clarinet choirs were founded during the last decade. The problem is always to find suitable music. Look into our catalogue!
Find an accurate fingering chart. Can be used by the beginners and the advanced players!
Please look at our big collection of articles about the clarinet. They are written by amateurs, professionals, writers and musician. If you feel like it, please send your related article(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Every article that is published will show your name and a short CV. If you wish, you can link to your own website. So be sure to add the correct data!
In the mean time you can enjoy the articles of other clarinet enthusiasts and visit our catalogues of immediate downloadable sheet music ...