The soprano clarinets are a sub-family of the clarinet family. The B♭ clarinet is by far the most common type of soprano clarinet—the unmodified word "clarinet" usually refers to this instrument. Other types of soprano clarinets include the instruments in A and C, sounding respectively a semitone lower and a whole tone higher than the B♭ instrument, and the low G clarinet—rare in Western music but popular in the folk music of Turkey—sounding a whole tone lower than the A. While some writers reserve a separate category of sopranino clarinets for the E♭ and D clarinets, these are more usually regarded as soprano clarinets as well. All have a written range from the E below middle C to about the C three octaves above middle C, with the sounding pitches determined by the particular instrument's transposition.
The clarinet family is commonly used in an orchestral setting to provide color, especially with regard to harmonies. Composers in the classical and romantic periods featured clarinet solos as well, relying on its unique tone and range. Clarinets in C are common in music of those periods, particularly opera. There have also been soprano clarinets in C, A, and B♭ with curved barrels and bells marketed under the names Saxonette, Claribel, and Clariphon.
Shackleton lists also obsolete "sopranino" clarinets in (high) G, F, and E, and soprano clarinets in B and A♭. The G "sopranino", only a half step lower than the A♭ piccolo clarinet, was popular during the late 19th century in Vienna for playing Schrammelmusik. B♭ soprano clarinet is also one of the most common instruments played in beginner and high school band, bass clarinet being a second common clarinet type played in beginner and high school band.
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