Instrument range


E flat, C, Bass, Contra Alto Eb & Contra Bass Bb Clarinets, A & B flat Basset Clarinets, Basset Horn, Classical & Romantic period Clarinets, Tarogato, Chalumeau, Soprano & Alto Saxophones.

Pictured: C Clarinet (left) and B flat Clarinet (right).

The ‘unusual’ instruments



Baroque predecessor to the clarinet with a small range of an octave and a fourth. Telemann, Vivaldi, Gluck and Graupner all wrote for the instrument in its various pitches – there are four members of the family from soprano to bass, normally pitched at A=415. At present Nicholas has the soprano and alto instruments built to modern pitch (A=440) and these have been used to considerable effect on the soundtracks to ‘Beloved’ and ‘The Truth About Charlie’. The range of the soprano is from F’ (above middle C) to Bflat’’ (an octave and a fourth above. The alto ranges from middle C to F’’ (an octave and a fourth). The sound can be quite straight with little vibrato to a very characterful ‘ethnic’ quality depending on the composer’s demands.

(soprano pictured left, alto right)



A single reed, conically bored instrument with a haunting, vibrant sound and a wide dynamic range. Used in Gipsy bands in Hungary and Romania, it is pitched in Bflat, like a wooden soprano saxophone but with different fingerings and a range from written Bflat (concert Aflat) below middle C to written C (Bflat concert) two octaves above middle C. Used to telling effect in very different contexts on ‘Jakob the Liar’ and ‘Beloved’, Nicholas’ instrument is by Stowasser of Budapest, generally acknowledged to have been the best maker and dates from about 1920.

Basset Clarinet


Made in both A & B flat like the normal clarinet, these instruments have an extended range of a major third taking the bottom note down to written C (concert A or B flat) the same compass as the basset horn in F. These extended instruments were developed by Anton Stadler who played second clarinet in the Vienna Opera and had a particular fondness for low notes! Mozart’s Concerto and Quintet were written for Stadler to perform on the basset clarinet – the extension adds a certain darkness to the tone over the whole range.

Pictured: Basset Horn (right) and 5 key Classical Clarinet (left)