I am studying a miniature score of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (Dover Miniature Scores). For the clarinets, I see this in the instrumentation page:

Clarinetto piccolo (D, Es)

3 Clarinetti (B, A) (Cl. II = Cl. b. II)

Clarinetto basso (B) (= Cl. IV)

This appears to be Italian but with German notes.

Alongside, there is the English:

Small Clarinet (D, E♭)

3 Clarinets (B♭, A)(Cl. II = Bass Cl.II)

Bass Clarinet (B♭) (= Cl. IV)

So, we need 5 players but the number of instruments is less clear. Using some invented names to make discussion easier.

Alice plays the small clarinets. She needs a D and an E♭.

Bob plays only a standard clarinet. He needs an A and B♭.

Carol mostly plays a standard clarinet but may be required to play a second bass. She needs an A, B♭ and a bass.

David, like Bob, plays only a standard clarinet. He needs an A and B♭.

Elizabeth mostly pass the bass but may be called on to play 4th regular clarinet. She needs a bass and one or both of an A and B♭.

It is Elizabeth's role that is least clear to me.

If I am correct, between them, there are:

1 D

1 E♭

3 or 4 A

3 or 4 B♭

2 bass

So, 10, 11, or 12 depending on the interpretation of Elizabeth's role.

I will examine the score in more detail later to try to find more clues.

Note that this question was originally combined with one on the bass clarinet notation. I have split them.

  • 2
    I just scanned a score (in a PDF on my phone, so not very carefully) and I think I saw that there is inconsistency about bass clarinet II, which is sometimes played by Cl. II and sometimes by Cl. III. It also looks like there are never three A clarinets. It does indeed seem that (as asserted in a comment on the related question) bass clarinet I never plays anything else. So it could be that 9 instruments are possible. Thanks for picking up on my abortive attempt at naming the players :-)
    – phoog
    Jul 7, 2019 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


The instrumentation page in the Dover score is incorrect. If you closely look at the score and the parts you will see:

  • Clarinet III plays Bass Clarinet II (and never plays A clarinet).
  • Bass Clarinet I plays only bass (there is no Clarinet IV).

So a total of nine instruments are needed.

  • E♭, D
  • I. B♭, A

  • II. B♭, A

  • III. B♭, bass
  • bass

Note: since D clarinets are quite rare, the player will very often transpose those parts for E-flat clarinet.

  • Thanks. That explains some puzzles e.g. the odd reference to Cl. IV. However, it suggests that the bass players need an A as well as a B♭ instrument. I have heard of but not seen these.
    – badjohn
    Jul 8, 2019 at 9:01
  • @badjohn Bass clarinets in A have been called for sometimes, but not in this piece
    – PiedPiper
    Jul 8, 2019 at 9:34
  • But that link says: "Clarinet 1, 2, 3/Bass Clarinet 2 (A, Bb), Piccolo Clarinet (D, E♭), Bass Clarinet 1 (A, B♭)" which seems to be calling for A and B♭ bass clarinets.
    – badjohn
    Jul 8, 2019 at 10:06
  • @badjohn The link is wrong, there is no bass clarinet in A in this piece. I just looked through the parts: Clarinet III never plays A clarinet, so I updated my answer
    – PiedPiper
    Jul 8, 2019 at 10:10
  • Thanks again. I will probably listen again and follow only the clarinets in the score but I expect that you are right.
    – badjohn
    Jul 8, 2019 at 10:19

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