Almost every clarinet player at one point or another has asked ourselves is there an easier way to finger this passage? Although most players own only one type of instrument, there are many different makes and models of clarinets available with modified mechanisms that can facilitate certain intervals or registers. Several models containing alternative keywork have been manufactured and patented over the years; however, not all have survived in today's mainstream market.
Back in our June 2009 column we covered websites that featured equipment and we briefly mentioned the ClarinetPerfection.com site. For those of you who have not had the chance to delve deeper into the website's content, the page for Alternative Keywork is a great resource for information on the various improvements and keywork modifications. Not only does it give an outline of the different models, it also contains numerous up-close photos of keywork so viewers can easily examine the differences. The systems listed include: Mazzeo system, McIntyre, Stubbins, van Perck, Pupeschi, and Full Boehm keywork. At the bottom of the page, links to the National Music Museum provide additional photos and information on 5-key, 6-key, Ottensteiner, and Haynes Thermo clarinets. Pages like this one remind us that our instrument does not reside in a static environment, and maybe the next big improvement is just around the corner.