Dear Mr. Friedland,
I have to begin, as always, by thanking you for maintaining your terrific web site. I’ve gone to it many, many times for advice, and sometimes I just wander through it for the interesting information it contains. I’ve learned quite a few things “by accident” that way, and I’ve passed the URL on to countless other enthusiasts, who all thank me profusely.
Here’s my question: I recently read on a message board that the barrel can substantially help or hinder production of notes in the altissimo register. Can that be true? I think I sound pretty good these days on my old Buffet E-11 until I get to the altissimo, at which point my notes are reduced to controlled squeaks. I’ve been working on this for quite a while now, trying changes in air flow, embouchure, reeds, even the ligature. All these things helped somewhat, particularly a slightly heavier reed — Gonzalez 3.75 — but I still feel like I’m “squeezing out” the notes.
I’m considering trying different mouthpieces (I’m currently using a VD M-13, which I like very much), but before I go down that rabbit hole, I want to make sure I’m not missing a more obvious fix.
Thank you, again, for sharing your knowledge and experience with all of us! Mike P.
The expert on clarinet designs and barrels Tom Ridenour wrote the following concerning the barrel and it’s effect on the high register:
Barrels can affect the altissimo register four ways: generally, it can be given more stability, tuning can be slightly altered in regard to the third register’s relation to the rest of the clarinet, timbre, along with the rest of the clarinet’s range, and, dimensions aside, I find hard rubber barrels, regardless of the brand of clarinet or dimensional properties of either barrel or clarinet, darken the tone and make high notes rounder and softer in texture, less strident.
That’s what I come up with.
I suggest you get in touch with Tom who has an extensive website and makes the best clarinet available at a wonderfully affordable cost. I play one, really, he is a wonderful source.
stay and play well.