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Clarinet Systems

Differing clarinet systems

There are currently three clarinet systems in common use by most clarinet players – Boehm, Oehler and Albert systems. Each is more popular due to traditions, and is often linked to language or music styles in each country.

The Boehm system is currently the most commonly used system today, and is the clarinet fingering system used in most English and French speaking countries. An adaptation of the Boehm fingering system devised in 1839 by Klose and Buffet, it eliminates cross-fingerings, making it less complicated and more comfortable for players. It has 17 keys and six rings. The introduction of this system led to clarinets being more in tune and more tonally consistent. This system is used on oboes and saxophones as well as flutes and clarinets.

The Oehler system is commonly used only in German speaking countries. While technically more difficult to use than the Boehm system, the result is a better tone and pitch reliability. As well as more keys than the Boehm system (22 keys, five rings and finger plates) the Oehler system has a different size bore.


The Albert system is mainly used in Eastern European countries, though it is also popular with some jazz players, especially fans of New Orleans style music. The most famous player to use an Albert system clarinet is Woody Allen. The Albert system is also used by many clarinetists who play Klezmer music, as the fingering system suits the keys in which this music is played.

 

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About the Author:

written by Natalia Forrest

 

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