Suggestion: E-flat Contrabass Clarinet

A project I am working on requires a Contrabass Clarinet in E-flat, but the only option in Dorico is a B-flat instrument. I appreciate that it’s a relatively rare instrument, but it is not unheard of. Is there any chance an E-flat Contrabass Clarinet can be added in a future update?

More commonly known as Contra Alto Clarinet - it’s there already.

I had to improvise a Bass Clarinet in A for an Elgar march. Any chance it exists under a different name or could be added?

I’ve been wondering when someone would need a Bass Clarinet in A, which does indeed pop up in the occasional score within a decade or so of 1900 (Sullivan wrote for it too). There are also Mozart’s phantom instruments, Piccolo in G (Abduction) and Clarinet in B (Così fan tutte). Although these will generally be played on our standard modern instruments, sometimes editors want the original notation retained. I’m certainly not saying that any negligence was committed in omitting these from Dorico! Just acknowleding the difficulty of providing an exhaustive library of instruments for use, as there have been so many over the centuries.

The Bass Clarinet in A is especially annoying as that was quite common for a time.

All really interesting! And thanks for the info Craig. I’ve never come across it anywhere else!

Aside from reproducing old notation, the Bass Clarinet in A is pretty much irrelevant, since no major instrument makers are producing them, and Bb instruments usually have at least a semitone low extension to match the A range - or an even bigger extension to match the low range of the bassoon.

Sure would much less annoying when entering from an existing score though… due to the current inflexibility of part numbering you can’t just use a clarinet in A, either.

I don’t see how any argument of anachronism holds true since we have all the old natural horns and trumpets.

I expect one could enter the notes in n A Clarinet and then transpose and change the instrument to a Bb Clarinet.

I would agree (as a completist) that there ought to be a bass clarinet in A. And if we are collecting missing instruments, Dorico has no sarrusophones at all - they have been made in at least 3 different keys (Eb C and Bb), though some are probably a more endangered species that bass clarinets in A.

The difference between this and natural horns is that almost every published orchestral score with horns and trumpets used natural instruments for at least a century, but the number of composers who wrote for bass clarinet in A could probably be counted on the fingers of both hands.


There are plenty of very signifigant works in there (Almost all the Wagner operas, most of the Mahler symphonies, Rach 2), spanning a time period from Die Walkure in 1856 to Schuller’s Duo Sonanta of 1949.