The clarinet is a family of woodwind instruments that have a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight cylindrical tube with an approximately cylindrical bore, and a flaring bell. A person who plays any type of clarinet is called a clarinettist or clarinetist.
The word clarinet may have entered the English language via the French clarinette (the feminine diminutive of Old French clarin or clarion), or from Provençal clarin, "oboe".It "is plainly a diminutive of clarino, the Italian for trumpet",[this quote needs a citation] and the Italian clarinetto is the source of the name in many other languages. According to Johann Gottfried Walther, writing in 1732, the reason for the name is that "it sounded from far off not unlike a trumpet". The English form clarinet is found as early as 1733, and the now-archaic clarionet appears from 1784 until the early years of the 20th century. Johann Christoph Denner invented the clarinet in Germany around the turn of the 18th century by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau. Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the tone and playability.
The term clarinet now normally refers to the B♭ clarinet (also B♭ soprano clarinet). However, the clarinet in A, just a semitone lower, is commonly used in orchestral music. Since the middle of the 19th century the bass clarinet (nowadays invariably in B♭ but with extra keys to extend the register down a few notes) has become an essential addition to the orchestra. The clarinet family ranges from the (extremely rare) BBB♭ octo-contrabass to the A♭ piccolo clarinet. Today, the clarinet is commonly used in classical music (such as concert bands, orchestras, chamber music, and solo repertoire), military bands, marching bands, klezmer, and jazz.