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Clarinet Fingering

The two most common forms of clarinet fingering

Today there are two common forms of clarinet fingering used by most clarinetists: the French (also known as Boehm) system which is widespread in the US, UK and France; and the German (also known as Oehler) system. While the results are the same, it is important to be aware what system your clarinet uses as this will have a huge impact on your learning of how to play the clarinet. While you may only ever have to use one system of fingering, it is a good idea to have at least an idea about both in case you have to swap fingerings when buying a new clarinet, or ever have students learning in a system different to yourself.

The Boehm system, an adaptation of the Boehm flute fingering system, is the slightly easier fingering to play. A clarinet with Boehm fingering has seventeen keys (plus seven open tone holes), making twenty-four tone holes all together along with six ring keys. The Oehler system has at least twenty-two keys and five ring keys.

While the French/Boehm fingering is easier, many clarinetists would argue that the German/Oehler system of fingering results in a sound that is more in tune. Developed in the early 20th century by Oskar Oehler, this system of fingering has the fingers holes further apart than the Boehm. It is a continuation of improvements to the clarinet made by Carl Baermann and Georg Ottensteiner in the late 19th century, and is the common form of fingering system used in German speaking countries today.

You can find an easy fingering chart here.


 

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About the Author:

written by Natalia Forrest

 

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