Dear Mr. Friedland,
Regarding clarinet tuning, I and most others I would think tune their clarinets by adjusting the barrel position or using barrels of different lengths. In addition to this, I have occaisionally seen someone adjust the tuning by pulling the center joint open a bit. Is this a recommended procedure? Does this tune a different range of the instrument? If this is a viable method of tuning, can you expound on the differences between tuning at the barrel or center joint or maybe both? Thank you for your comments!
Hello Mr. C.:
I have had students who pulled each and every place they could, “out” on the clarinet, that is, the mouthpiece, the barrel, first joint and even the bell, and I think all of that is proper or in varying degrees in order to tune to the prevailing pitch or if you have a very sharp clarinet.
The barrel only does only so much, and the more you pull it, the more of a space you create inside which is a detriment. Conventional wisdom is to pull out the barrel and add rings. Or there are tunable barrels which work quite well, however the tuning that is most affected is the throat.
The large joint can be pulled as well, but of course you run the risk of the clarinet flapping in the breeze, and also the bell can be pulled , it hardly being necessary because the bottom of most french-style clarinets is usually convincingly flat. It is both a matter of degree and the prevailing pitch which governs your actions in pulling out. The mouthpiece can be a contributing factor as well. Most Van Doren mouthpieces are sharp, as are Selmers, however others are less so.
Of course, all depends upon the ear of the player, at least most of the time.
Truthfully, I have a good ear, however I have knowingly played sharp because of the perception I had that there were many people playing sharp to me in the orchestra. This calls more for conversation with the others rather than obstinacy.
Good luck, best regards,