Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Amanda McCandless


This thesis is a three-sectioned guide to the bass clarinet to be used by players starting out their orchestral careers. Research was done to provide insight for the orchestral bass clarinetist about auditions and compositions that have an important bass clarinet part.

The first section focuses on the origins of the bass clarinet. In this section, the reader will learn why it was invented, the difficulties inventors had in creating it, and the first compositions for this instrument. Knowing the structural history of the bass clarinet gives the performer knowledge of the bass clarinets available when a piece was written, which would allow the musician to better understand the composer's intent.

When musicians start participating in orchestral auditions, they must know the orchestral repertoire. The Clarinet is a quarterly journal in which clarinetists and scholars around the world write articles discussing the instrument and its literature. In 1990 and 2000, two reports were published in that journal that presented research of clarinet and bass clarinet audition repertoire and determined the popular excerpts asked at orchestral auditions. Ten years later, in 2010, I did research to constitute a third installment. That summer, I contacted 80 orchestras in the United States and received audition lists from 18 of them. While I did not have the same size of audition lists to draw from as the others, I still had a variety of orchestra sizes respond, and it is a representative study of the orchestral world today. The second section of this paper describes the three different studies and shows the results from each.

Section three analyzes the frequently selected excerpts and provides more information on the piece and its composer. This provides the player with insight into the piece and important information to note when preparing the excerpt for an audition.

Through this research, I wish to find if there is any change in audition material from 1990 until today. With the updated bass clarinet audition material list, a bass clarinetist will be more prepared for an orchestral audition in 2010. When that knowledge is paired with a structural history of the instrument and a working understanding of the frequently selected excerpts, the musician auditioning will have a better chance at getting the bass clarinet spot in the orchestra. But more importantly, after analyzing the frequently asked excerpts, one learns what is expected of the bass clarinet in compositions with crucial bass clarinet parts. With that knowledge, one can clearly define the bass clarinet's role in the symphony orchestra.

Year of Submission



School of Music

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (33 pages)



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