Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Bach BWV 903 clarinet transcription Chromatic Fantasy Labadorf dissertation interpretation

Major Advisor

Dr. Richard Bass

Associate Advisor

Dr. Peter Kaminsky

Associate Advisor

Dr. Louis Hanzlik

Field of Study



Doctor of Musical Arts

Open Access

Open Access


A new transcription of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy is presented to offset limitations of previous transcriptions by other editors. Certain shortcomings of the clarinet are addressed which add to the difficulty of creating an effective transcription for performance: the inability to sustain more than one note at a time, phrase length limited by breath capacity, and a limited pitch range. The clarinet, however, offers qualities not available to the keyboard that can serve to mitigate these shortcomings: voice-like legato to perform sweeping scalar and arpeggiated gestures, the increased ability to sustain melodic lines, use of dynamics to emphasize phrase shapes and highlight background melodies, and the ability to perform large leaps easily. A unique realization of the arpeggiated section takes advantage of the clarinet’s distinctive registers and references early treatises for an authentic wind instrument approach.

A linear analysis, prepared by the author, serves as a basis for making decisions on phrase and dynamic placement. A comparison of various keyboard editions and available analyses provides essential performance practice references in order to produce as authentic a representation of the work as possible.

Unique to this transcription is the graphic layout of the single staff, providing a synthesis between standard clarinet notation and the keyboard grand staff. By altering stem directions, and by grouping notes with broken beams and slurs, this version gives the clarinetist a clearer means of visualizing and interpreting the structural content of the original work.

The complete transcription is included as an appendix.