Clarinet and Saxophone Lessons in Putney.
Convenient to Putney, Fulham, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Richmond in purpose built studio.

Quotes by Hyacinthe Klose from his Complete Method for Clarinet

of Shading

It is by the shadings we put into sounds that we produce the most beautiful effects in music; they are to melody what the various colors are to a painting. It is impossible to recommend too sharply the observance of shadings with a scrupulous exactitude.

To become an adept in shading, you must give great attention to the practice of prolonged sounds. This forms quality of tone, gives broadness to the playing, and in a word, everything necessary for causing the fingers to obey the impressions that we feel.

There is a general rule which we must take not to neglect. This rule consists in swelling or filling out the sound when a passage ascends, and in diminishing it when a passage descends. Nevertheless, as a matter of study and for shading, it will be as well to practice this rule in an reverse sense.

Study and Practice

Few persons derive from their labours all the advantage they expect; this arises from the want of knowing how to direct their studies, not having had a sure guide to conduct them.

Without insisting on a rigorous rule,  give my advice as to employing the time devoted to practice; I will state then, that four hours a day ought to be sufficient if disposed of in the following manner.

The 1st hour should be bestowed on the perfect production of prolonged sounds over the whole compass of the Clarinet so as to acquire roundness of tone and softness of execution.

The 2nd hour, the practice of scales and of distributed chords in the different keys so as to gain knowledge of the mechanism, and equality in the fingers.

The 3rd hour, the practice of articulation and of the various degrees of light and shade(piano and forte.)

The 4th hour should be employed in recapitulating the preceding studies, and in practising the execution of the best works written for the Clarinet.

Whatever may be the time which the pupil can devote each day, he will do well to regulate it accordingly to the above arrangement, taking care at all times to adapt it to his age and powers of endurance.

of Leading Notes

We call "the leading note" that which is a semitone below the tonic or keynote.

The leading note always tends to approach the tonic, particularly when its resolution is into the latter note; in that case it must be made to sound as sharp as possible.

The leading notes of melody must also be always heard as sharp as possible in a concerto, or a solo; but when playing with an orchestras and this note is doubled with the flutes, hautboys, or bassoons the leading notes must be made with the regular fingerings to avoid making discords with the other instruments.

Taken from 'Complete Method for the Clarinet by H. Klose' The Riviere and Hawkes edition pre 1896.


Hyacinthe Eléonore Klosé (October 11, 1808 in Corfu. August 29, 1880 in Paris) was a French Clarinet player, professor at the Conservatoire de Paris and composer.

Klosé is noted for his design improvements to the clarinet using the principles laid down by Theobald Boehm in his innovative work on the Flute key work. From 1839 to 1843, he enlisted the help of Louis-August Buffet of Buffet-Crampon fame, an instrument-making technician, to construct — what is known today as — the Boehm clarinet system

Klosé was second clarinet at the Theatre Italien to Frédéric Berr beginning in 1836, then to Iwan Muller following Berr's death in 1838, finally becoming solo clarinet when Müller left in 1841.

The Boehm system for the clarinet is a system of clarinet keywork, developed between 1839 and 1843 by Hyacinthe Klosé and Auguste Buffet jeune. The name is somewhat deceptive; the system was inspired by Theobald Boehm's system for the flute, but necessarily differs from it, since the clarinet overblows at the twelfth rather than the flute's octave. Boehm himself was not involved in its development.

Klosé and Buffet took the standard soprano clarinet, adapted the ring and axle keywork system to correct serious intonation issues on both the upper and lower joints of the instrument, and added duplicate keys for the left and right little fingers, simplifying several difficult articulations throughout the range of the instrument.





Extract from the Complete method

The Introduction from the Complete Method

The Clarinet's History

Most instruments have very old ancestors - the clarinet has not

It is not common knowledge how old music - instrumental music - really is. What we learn't at school is probably outdated at best, but mostly really wrong. We use to think that instruments came up not long before Sumeria. But flutes from bones have already been well known and used in the Stone Age. The oldest flute that we have today is from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, and is approximately 35,000 years old. It was produced from a swan's bone, at a time when drills were completely unknown. It has a nearly perfect pentatonic scale (like chinese music today). This is probably no coincidence. Other very old instruments have the same scale which tells us that folks already had a clear sound system idea 35,000 years ago. But: You only need a correct scale system like this if musicians want to play together. Shepherds for example won't need this - playing solo - and therefore typical shepherd's instruments will have a completely different system (like Arabic scales) with which you can't play together - but then again, you will find those systems are well defined, too. This old artefact with the perfect scale is no proof yet but you better get used to the idea that musical instruments and woodwind ensembles played in the Stone Age already - making music in ensembles seems to be less a hobby of a few but a basic part of being human.

As with the flute most instruments we know today are refinements of very old ancestors. We can see some of them on monuments and paintings that are hundreds - sometimes thousands - of years old. These pictures and sometimes broken artifacts tell us very little about the music that was made with them, just whether people have danced. But you find much more about it conserved in literature and even in legislature that gives us some idea how they were used and what effects they must have had (some Greek states have banned certain scales and types of playing because of the ecstasy it caused in the audience!).

Pic: Etruscan Aulos, a double-oboe
Etruscan Aulos, a double-oboe"

Today we assume that the ancestors of the modern woodwind instruments were developed in the middle east and have reached Europe via Turkey. Double reed instruments like the Aulos (a double oboe) in the Etruscan picture were already known in old Egypt and Greece.You see them on mural paintings in burial chambers and on wine jugs. These instruments developed gradually into today's modern instruments - the modern oboe and the bassoon as well as the instrument commonly used in Turkish popular dance music. A similar development can be shown for the flute, the trumpet, the trombone and all string instruments.

The clarinet, however, is the exception which didn't result from a gradual development of an already existing instrument instrument. The clarinet was a revolutionary development at about 1700, built upon the chalumeau.

The Chalumeau

Instruments with a single reed that were known as a shepherd instrument have existed for ages: The Zummarah and the Arghul. Such instruments were pipes, and the reed was cut out of the tube itself. We are talking about a rather simple instrument here. They are no candidates as direct ancestor of the clarinet. But there is one: The Chalumeau (spoken: Shaloomoh) was spread widely all over Europe. The name comes from Greek/Latin, where "Calumus" means pipe. The Chalumeau always was considered a shepherd's instrument, that had to be played solo. Unfortunately no Chalumeau has survived - one assumes that it must have looked much like a recorder and sounded like the lower octave of today's clarinet. It was not easy to play in tune. Therefore it was uninteresting for most composers and serious musicians, and was hardly ever used in compositions except for some shepherd scenes.

Nevertheless today we have kind of a renaissance of the chalumeau, and some companies begin to re-build that instrument; both in a traditional and a modern form (see this Video at Youtube of a mordern form by Germany instrument maker Kunath).

Why is the Clarinet more than an improved Chalumeau?

The problem developing instruments similar to clarinets (like the Chalumeau) becomes clear when you think about what happens if you play a scale on an instrument like the recorder: There are eight or nine tone holes for the lower octave (as you have got 10 fingers) and there is an octave hole. "Over-blowing" or opening an octave hole makes all other woodwind instruments sound exactly one octave higher than the note would sound without over-blowing - all other instruments but not the clarinet. You learn this quickly and it is simple for the instrument maker: The tone holes and their distances for the upper octave are precisely the same as for the lower octave. In this contents you speak of lower and upper register.

The overblowing is different now for the clarinet: The clarinet overblows not to the eighth tone on the scale (an octave - which is exactly double the frequency) but to the twelwth tone. The italian word for this is duodecime, and so we call the ove-rblowing key the duodecime-key. A beginner must learn this and get used to it. Furthermore this has implications on the construction of the instrument: The tone hole positions for the lower scale should be different from that of the upper scale. Since this is practically not possible, the instrument maker must find a compromise. The instrument makers before 1700 have not mastered this because they didn't have the theoretical background. Therefore the Chalumeau hasn't got an upper register. We still call the lower register of the clarinet the chalumeau register and the upper (actually the middle register) the clarinet register.

The "invention" of the clarinet

After having experimented with chalumeaus for a long time, the instrument maker C. H. Denner of Nuremberg, Germany, finally managed to build an instrument, that would not only play the lower register but also the upper one, without sacrificing to much of intonation (that is correctnes of the tone frequency). In order to do this he added two additional holes close to the duodecime key. The remaining problems with intonation the player had to correct with his embouchure.

Woodcut print: oldest description of clarinets, 1740
Woodcut print: oldest description of clarinets, 1740

The German text on the description of 1740 says: "Clarinetto, that is a wooden wind instrument invented by a Nuremberger at the beginning of this century. It is not unlike a long oboe, except that it has a wide mouthpiece. This instruments sounds from afar rather alike a trumpet and it reaches from the Tenor f up to the 2-dashed a, at times up to 3-dashed c.

On the left, the key table says (from top to bottom): Thumb-key, Thumb-hole, Forefinger-key/hole, Middle finger (hole), ring-finger (hole), then right hand: forefinger, middle finger, ring finger, small finger."

The first clarinets were still very simple and looked much like a larger recorder. They had two keys, later three (our description depicted here shows two: left thumb and left forefinger). The new instrument already had a wider tonal range than oboes or trumpets of that time. And one could play it relatively loud and execute technically difficult runs and jumps besides, which would be impossible on a trumpet. Therefore one at first replaced the high trumpets, the so-called "clarini", with the new instrument. The name "clarinet" might have come from that.

So the clarinet was not just an improved Chalumeau, those two keys made it a completely different instrument. The result was sensational: It was heard in orchestras very soon. Vivaldi wrote or re-wrote three concerty grossi in 1740 already, and Händel composed an Ouverture in 1748, where he demanded clarinets in d.

It is widely accepted that it was C.H. Denner, who invented the instrument, and it is only he who is mentioned in a note published shortly afterwards (the Article above only writes about a "Nuremberger"). Lately it is being discussed whether there might have been others, but there is no proof for that.

In 1760 the famous (and at this time leading edge) Mannheim Orchestra already had a budget for two clarinet players, both musicians were at the same time oboe players, too. From 1778 on they were clarinet players only. Not long after that Mozart wrote his famous works for clarinet - including the concerto for basset clarinet in A (often called concerto for clarinet in A) - that are technically extremely demanding. Even with today's instruments they are a challenge for professional musicians. At that time clarinets had five technically questionable keys. It is hard to imagine that you could play that music with those instruments at all, but it must have been possible, as the critics were excited (and you must not think that they did not know what quality in instrument making and playing was - it was the time when string instruments like Stradivari violins were built...)

Iwan Müllers Keys

Iwan Müller was a German clarinet player and instrument maker, who revolutionized not only the key mechanics. While old keys had a simple pivot-mechanic and felt pads, and hardly ever were reliable, he developed the spoon-key with leather pad and sunk-in holes with a conical ring, as you find them on instruments today:

alte Filzklappe Löffelklappe versenktes Tonloch

Altogether Müller's clarinet had 12 keys. It was not so far away any more from what Germans play today. Next to this Müller changed the reed roughly into the form we use today, and developed the ligature. Unfortunately the Paris Conservatoire did not accept his developments in 1812, because the French firmly believed (some still do today) in the specific character of scales. This would be destroyed by a clarinet that could easily play chromatically (that is: in all scales). Until then clarinets could only play one scale.

Klosés instrument (the Boehm system) gains acceptance in France and in the rest of the World

Shortly after this the German flute maker Theobald Boehm brought about two improvements to the instrument making world: On the one hand, he created a mathematical basis for the perfect calculation of the position of tone holes and on the other hand, he invented the ring key. The ring key makes it possible to cover a hole larger than the finger that lies on the ring key. On this basis the Frenchman Hyacinthe Klosé developed the "Boehm" clarinet model, his instrument maker Buffet started building it in 1839. Being French himself, he was better prepared to deal with the gatekeepers of the Parisian Music Academy than Ivan Müller, his instrument was accepted and is played in the whole world today.

The Germans go their own way

In the German speaking countries the Boehm system did not become standard, here instrument makers improved the Müller System. The actual German system is called "Oehler" and is technically as good as the current Boehm System. I give you a short overview over the development, the systems and their differences here. Actually it seems you find more differences in the heads of the players, of how the instrument should be played and how they should sound, than you find technical differences between the instruments.

A third system - looks like German but isn't

You see a dixieland band and the old clarinettist plays on something, that is definitely not Boehm - it has got the the wooden sliding rolls of the German systems, but looks much simpler... Then this probably is an "Albert" clarinet, an old descendant from the Müller system, that has survived in Jazz and in Oriental Music (Turkish, Klezmer). It is still being built today for this purpose

Recent Videos

5765 views - 34 comments
7108 views - 33 comments
5669 views - 20 comments