The orchestral bass clarinet (with low C) is the woodwind counterpart of the cello. The range, at 4 octaves from C below the bass clef, is the same on both instruments and both have a richly resonant tone in all registers universally loved in many musical genres. However, one important difference is that the cello is played with a bow enabling it to sound continuously without interruption. In contrast, sound on the bass clarinet is generated with breath, very much like singing.
As Bach wrote his solo suites with virtually no rests, any instrumentalist using breath for sound must organize their musical phrasing to enable small moments of time for breathing in. Fortunately, this is a good thing in music and even string and keyboard players will phrase with slight changes in tempo and brief pauses that give a ‘singing’ quality to their performances. Since melodies need to be remembered before they can be heard, these pauses also help listeners ‘keep pace’ with the performer and enables a fuller appreciation of the musical poetry.
We believe the bass clarinet can evoke Bach’s wonderful musical magic, perhaps even with something new and surprisingly delightful. Please take a few minutes to decide for yourself and let us know what you think.