The clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a beautiful rich velvety texture of sound in its lower register, (called the chalumeau register after an earlier instrument)  and a powerful and penetrating sound in its middle and high registers.

It has a single reed, set in a pointed mouthpiece, unlike the oboe and bassoon, which both possess a double reed. It is cylindrical in shape, unlike the cone shape of oboes and bassoons, and it ends with  a bell shape.

The most common clarinet today is the Bb clarinet, whose range starts at the D below middle C (Midi note D3), and reaches up to the Bb above the 2nd C above middle C  (Midi note Bb6),   a total range of more than 3 octaves. Music written for the Bb clarinet sounds one tone lower than written, so a written C sounds as the Bb below it.  The A clarinet is a semi-tone lower than the Bb clarinet.

The clarinet has been a regular member of the orchestra since about 1770. In addition, there is an excellent repertoire of music for solo or accompanied clarinet. Supremely famous are Mozart's clarinet concerto and his clarinet quintet.