Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century iconographical representations of clarinet reed position

Pearson, I. E. (2000) Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century iconographical representations of clarinet reed position. Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography,, 25. pp. 87-95. ISSN 1522-7464 (print) 2169-9488 (online)

Abstract

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century iconographical representations of clarinet reed position confirm the existence of two embouchures as documented in contemporary primary source materials. Whilst the reed- below embouchure has become the most prevalent today, works of art confirm the co-existence of reed- above clarinet playing until the second half of the nineteenth century. Specific portrayals of the reed-above embouchure indicate its use amongst art music practitioners and military players as well as in indigenous musics. Quite a few representations testify to the popularity of the five-keyed clarinet which, although developed in ca. 1765, was still employed well into the nineteenth century. Organological details documented in these pictures include the transition to a dark-wood mouthpiece joint, and the use of a metal ligature to bind the reed to the mouthpiece. The images discussed in this paper include engravings, paintings, and lithographs, dating from ca. 1722 until ca. 1860, by artists from Germany, England, France, and Italy. Three of the six reproductions included appear in print here for the first time.

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