The Bb clarinet is one of the mainstays of the Concert Band. Performing the same role that the String Section would in an Orchestra, Clarinets provide much of the body of sound in the band. There are usually at least three Bb Clarinet parts and a solo part spread amongst 10-15 Clarinetists. If there is no Oboe, the pitch of a clarinet will be used to tune the band.
The Clarinet consists of a cylindrical tube whose mouthpiece has a single, vibrating reed. One of the best known is the Bb clarinet with French standard Boehm fingering system. (There are also a number of different key/fingering systems such as the Oehler, Albert, German and other variations but they are seldom, if ever, used).
The Clarinet is one of the most versatile of all modern instruments. It has a very wide range of notes (three and a half octaves), and you can hear its pure, clear sound in orchestras, military bands, and jazz groups. Construction is usually of African blackwood or moulded plastic, and it is just over 26 inches long. It has a breathy, almost hollow tone - popular with jazz saxophone players who often use it as a second instrument.