It is much different. Equally difficult, but in different ways! Bass clarinet does take more air flowrate, but less air pressure. Lower register is perhaps easier to sound good on than with soprano clarinet, but the second (clarion) register is much more challenging.
As I've specialized in bass clarinet most of my life I've had the opposite problem, for me the soprano clarinet is more difficult!
Playing bass will do wonders to your soprano air stamina, you can then play half a soprano piece in a single breath. :bluewink:
David is right - (much much) more air, less pressure. Lower register (hey, that's what basses are made for) is a blast, but clarion is not all that difficult, except maybe from the top three or four notes (A..C), depending on your setup.
(This year I've been spared from doing coloratura soprano on my bass and am allowed to happily mumble and rumble mostly below the staff.)
The reeds tend to be less stiff, but you'll eventually get tired as well as there is more mouthpiece circumference to be sealed with your lips.
I'm not sure about the "less control of the air stream" - don't think that's true, especially in the clarion and altissimo. There may be less backpressure, but that doesn't mean less control.
Suffice to say that bass is neither easier nor more difficult to play than soprano - it just is different, much like an Eb soprano is different from a Bb soprano.
Each instrument requires individual attention, but bass is a very rewarding instrument, especially if you're fond of good vibrations.
Embouchure is more relaxed. One of the problems soprano players have when they try the bass is too tight an embouchure, and not taking enough mouthpiece in the mouth. Start with as much mouthpiece as you can take without squawking, and as loose an embouchure as possible without air escaping, and work from there. Maybe a 2 1/2-3 reed, no matter what strength you use on soprano. The interior volume of a bass is several times that of a soprano, so breath control is definitely important. The clarion register shouldn't be that tough, although there are some unstable notes around the top of the staff. Be careful not to get into extreme mouthpieces at first (or ever?).
As a long time sax player and less than five years (and not working on it very hard) clarinet player, I'd say the biggest challenge if finding a bass clarinet that works well. From the get go, I could get the low range to work. But getting the clarion range to speak was nigh impossible. Impossible UNTIL I upgraded my mouthpiece and then got a better instrument. It's still a challenge because I don't spend enough time on the instrument, but I do luv the sound of the bass clarinet in the chalumeau range. I live for the solo moments down there.
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