Dear Mr. Friedland,
Which of Mr. Ridenour’s clarinets is in your opinion the best (I’m quite confused between the Arioso and the Lyrique–are there more than these)?
Would you say that in terms of physical nitty-gritties like keywork and aesthetic qualities like tone colour, even resistance, intonation, Ridenour’s clarinets are superior to professional Buffet clarinets like the Festival and Tosca models? I would like a clarinet that I will be satisfied with for a life-time of learning and performing.
Can a warm, fluid and dark tone colour with depth (like that of Martin Frost and Sabine Meyer) be achieved with Ridenour clarinets? I use Ralph Morgan mouthpiece RM06, Zonda reeds size 3.5 and Eddie Daniels ligature.
May I know your set-up?Thank you very much for answering my questions.
P.S. To help me clear up my understanding of tone colours, could you please describe what is bright and what is dark? Is Buffet RC or R13 brighter?
Thank you for your letter.
As far as Mr. Ridenour’s clarinet models, my awareness is that the Arioso is the basic model and that the Lyrique is somewhat similar, however comes with a personal warranty from the designer himself for service, something like a luxury automobile, however I may have that somewhat confused. I have not as yet played the Lyrique clarinet, so I cannot comment further on the model.
The Arioso, which I own. Tone color, resistance and intonation, it is equal to any clarinet made.
As far as sounding like those whom you mention, you will sound like you sound, and there are a number of reasons for this: it is not a matter of just sound per se, but also of attack, release, conception and perception of the player.
No setup can make you sound like an admired player, but of course you must have at least correctly made materials, including clarinet and mouthpiece, etc. My feeling is that ligature is more a fad concept and one more of perception than material, although of course if you tighten the material enough, you can choke your reed ,rendering it impossible to do much in the realm of flexibity. Please do not use a wraparound string ligature. It is expensive and it does not work in a quickchange situation.
People just love to question and to interpret what is bright and what is dark, and as well, they adore making derisive remarks about the meaning of these terms pertaining to clarinet sound.
Right now, these terms are considered equal to good (dark) and bad(bright), but that is sure to change again and again, depending upon the particular player and the following they acquire.These qualities are not just a matter of frequencies, but more I think of actual musical execution and the ability to really espress the music of the particular composer.
If you ask a number of players whom they admire and why, you will get answers that are completely disparate.
A correctly made mouthpiece is more important than the make, and there are differences there as well as to symetrical or asymmetrical facings, rather violent differences at that.
Most of the great players of the past used symetrically faced mouthpieces.
I play on a Gennusa mouthpiece, copied from an old one I had found so that now I have two very close mouthpieces which play many reeds and I am at last, and at least satisfied. They are also very much intune and I like the sound. Gennusa used a different mix for his blanks and they do sound different , which I prefer.
My facing is supposedly similar to that of Harold Wright, I have been told, (by Tom Ridenour, after I sent him my measurements).
I use Gonzalez FOF reeds which I find perfect for my playing. They are similar to Zonda, which I have also tried, however they last longer and remain consistant more than Zonda or any other I have played. Supposedly they are similar to the old Morre cut used by legendary clarinetists, the blank being thicker.
I used that type of ligature(like ED) but without all that gold filagree on it and no different plates to put under it to change your sound. This stuff for me is all pure “sell” and really nothing more.
The optimum ligature made by VD is the most expensive thing you can buy, is heavy and slipped off my clarinet each time I removed the mouthpiece to change clarinets.Worthless, for me.
I am told that all Buffet clarinets are the same instrument, with different labels and prices to match (and my source will remain anonymous). I do not know which is brighter and/or darker.
A lomg time ago I played an R 13 and then changed to an RC, and I didn’t like the change one bit. The RC seemed to me to be tubby, flaccid ,if you will.
Ridenours clarinets are not finished as well as the big three french clarinets, or the Yamaha, at least the top of their lines, however that is not to say that you could not play for a lifetime of playing music on them, with great pleasure.
Hard rubber I believe is a superior material to grenadliia and it cannot crack, so that is that; and I do not subscribe to the popular folklore that you can only make a good clarinet sound on wood, not for one minute.
I don’t know thw Ralph morgan mouthpiece, but I know that Ridenour knows more about mouthpiece manufacture than any other mouthpiece craftsmen as they are prone to call themselves.
Best of all good luck with you clarinet and all else.