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The deep-rooted microtonality of the bass clarinet

The existing literature only partly acknowledges the microtonal possibilities of the bass clarinet, restricting the options mainly to quartertones. When measured, the results of the proposed fingering patterns are often approximative. This PhD project of Henri Bok proposes a new microtonal approach of the bass clarinet, further developing the instrument’s capability to produce not only exact quartertones, but also smaller units: eighth-tones and 31-tones. The ‘root-overtone’ microtonality of the bass clarinet is explored as well, using the natural overtones which can be generated on top of roots, as a means to create more microtonal variants, often in the form of nano tones. The numerous fingering patterns that are the outcome of this research have been documented in the appendices. All these fingering patterns are shown in combined audio/video recordings. Instruction and demonstration videos clarify the different subjects of this research. Audio recordings illustrate the use of the microtonal bass clarinet playing in the pieces which were the result of the collaboration with several interested composers. The findings are also applied in a number of compositions of the author. The extension of the bass clarinet’s microtonal possibilities presented here will allow bass clarinettists, composers and other instrumentalists to inform and enrich their creative processes.

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