The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Fox: The design and construction of Bohlen-Pierce clarinets and other wind instruments


This lecture/demonstration outlines the conception, design, construction and development of the first Bohlen-Pierce wind instruments – clarinets of various sizes, recorders and potential future types – from the inception of the current project in 2003 up to the present day. Design-related topics discussed include the choice of a central pitch standard, adapting an existing design to a different tuning scheme, laying out tone holes using a combined mathematical/empirical approach, and keywork arrangements. The particular suitability of clarinet-type instruments, which overblow at the twelfth, is noted, along with, conversely, the potential problems with instruments that overblow at the octave. The issues encountered by the player – e.g., fingerings and modification of ingrained habits of pitch recognition and pitch adjustment – are also mentioned.