This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Clarinets – Three by Three

21 June 2019

Three of a kind.
In poker three clarinets will always beat
two pairs of saxophones and cornets.

Clarinetists are a gregarious lot,
possibly because in a wind band they comprise 
the largest flock of instrumentalists
with dozens of B-flat clarinets
fortified by a few of
the smaller, shriller E-flat clarinets.

In some families
the clarinet is so esteemed
that multiple generations take up the instrument
filling the household with the sweet twitter
of clarinets in different keys
like the C clarinet, B-flat, and E-flat
of this family threesome.

The clarinet comes in other sizes too,
and a band usually includes a bass clarinet
like the one in this triad

to bottom out the range of the higher reeds.

And as long time readers of this blog know,
clarinetists are fond of flashy uniforms.

* * *

The first trio of clarinets
is a a postcard photo or three unidentified young women
dressed in matching uniform coats over long skirts.
On their caps are badges with the initials S. M. B.
The woman on the right has an E-flat clarinet.
The unmarked postcard dates from around 1905-1915.

* * *

The next anonymous clarinet threesome
of father, daughter, and son
is from St. Marys, Ontario
as noted on the logo
for the photographer of this cabinet card photo,
Webster & Co.

St. Marys is a small town in southwestern Ontario, Canada
about 135 miles east of Detroit, Michigan.
The photo's style is from around 1900-1905.

* * *

The third clarinet triad
is a postcard photo of three British bandsmen
standing on the entrance steps to a building,
location unknown.
The two unnamed B-flat clarinetists on either side
sport a trimmed mustache style
that roughly suggests a WW1 era,
but I suspect the uniform style is 1920s or even 1930s.
The older musician in the center
holds a bass clarinet, once common in military bands.
The photo came from a dealer in England
but I've been unable to identify their cap badges
which might at least narrow their location or organization.

The bass clarinet is the most illusive
of instruments to find in old photos.

* * *

As luck would have it,
I have enough clarinets to make four of kind,
as when I purchased the photo of the Ontario family of clarinetists,
there was a second  photo included,
also taken by Webster & Co. of St. Marys, Ont.
It is of the father, minus 15-17 years,
but proudly holding his clarinet
with a hint of smile beneath his brushy mustache.

It might even be the same tie
and the same clarinet.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link to see what the boys are up to.


Barbara Rogers said...

Well, three of a kind of musicians, of any kind, make better sounding music than just one.

Molly of Molly's Canopy said...

Great set of photos -- and nice find to get an earlier one of the dad. Benny Goodman would have been proud to have any of these musicians in his Big Band. Clarinet was one of the many instruments my music-teacher mother insisted I try until I finally settled on acoustic guitar. I well remember the fascination of preparing and changing the reeds to assure the best tone -- something I am sure these folks were adept at.

La Nightingail said...

I'd never seen a bass clarinet & had no idea such a thing existed. Interesting. A short little gal in my daughter's community band plays a bass saxophone. Until my daughter joined the band I'd never seen or heard of that instrument either (big mother!). I imagine there are all sorts of more unusual instruments those of the lay populace like myself have never seen nor heard of. That and instruments that existed once upon a time, but no longer do. :)

SusanK said...

I love the consistent musician themes. This one I particularly enjoy as I once played the clarinet.

DawnTreader said...

What wonderful photos. I can't recall any really old ones in my collection that involve musical instruments.

ScotSue said...

A great selection of musical threesomes!


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