synthetic reeds update

February 26, 2008

Dear Mr. Friedland,
You have written a lot about the Legere reeds. If I may make a suggestion, please try using Fibercell reeds instead of Legere. I and several others here have used them extensively on Alto, Tenor, and Bari saxes and I also use them on soprano clarinets. We find them superior to the Legere and much closer to cane reeds. They tend to be a little stiff for their strength rating and you may want to drop a half step from your cane reeds.
Just a suggestion!
I have received a couple of the Fibracell reeds and have tried them. They are actually quite close to Legere, I feel no better and they are very hard to get, especially the specific strength for which I asked: 2.5. I received one reply stating there would be a “long wait” for 2.5, and because I experienced no particular epiphany with the reed which does come in a neat plastic case, much better than the Legere plastic case folder, I gave up the quest. I am using cane reeds from Argentina presently and they are much superior to Van Doren or any of the French reeds. I haven’t as yet tried Rico Reserve, but will eventually. Plastic reeds are indeed synthetic, but they are also plastic, if you get my drift. Yes, I can play them and I think I can make the same sound, however there is a certain sensitivity which Ifeel is lost with plastic. Or, one may call it flexibiltiy. I don’t mean bending sound at all. Simply put they are thicker than cane and I think simplistically they are alo less flexible. These tests have been long expensie and comprehensive and plastic and cane are two different things. There are some players who do well, very well with plastic, Richard Hawkins is the best I have heard, and he is a superior player. But his mouthpieces are the absolute best I have ever played. I play one now and the sound is very beautiful. I feel he is very knowledgable with reeds as well , and believe he has worked with Legere on the Quebec cut, a better reed than the ordinary Legere, more flexible to put it more clearly.
Good luck and keep practicing , on any reed which pleases you.



More on Legere, and hard rubber

February 25, 2008

I have decided to abandon my experiment with the
Legere reeds and am too going back to cane reeds, at
least for my soprano clarinet playing. I have found
that I produce too uneven and uncontrolled sound from
them. As the Legere reeds vibrate they have a
tendency of producing additional undesired harmonic
tones and periodic tone fluctuations. This is just
too hard to control and adjust.

I do still see a purpose for them, especially when
playing multiple instruments in quick instrument
change situations. Therefore I do still intend on
using them in my Symphonic Band where I am changing
quickly back and forth between the Bass and Alto
Clarinets. Not needing to wet the reed and being
confident that you will be able to play right away is
a nice convenience the Legere plastic reeds offer.
Also, it seems the harmonic variances and fluctuations
are not as dramatic or as noticeable on the lower
pitched instruments I have found. Maybe you might
have a good explanation.

Thanks for the news about the L27. If only I were independently financially , I’d buy it in a minute, that and any other clarinet as well.
In any event, I believe that the extra and additional overtones or extra noises you are getting are attributable to the mouthpiece you are using, as I have experienced the same thing with the Redwine or Gennusa mouthpiece.
I have not gotten the same overtone or sounds on Fobes mouthpieces or a new mouthpiece, which I’ve heard about for years, first suggested to me by Mazzeo when I was studying with him so many years ago.
This is a Borbeck, one I have purchased to try fro WWBW. It was B stock, meaning someone may have scratched it slightly, but about 1/2 the price.
Beautifully finished, really, and affordable, about 75 bucks, I think.
The legere are on again off again, but it depends upon what you are playing on. If a regular Legere, try a half a number softer, but the Quebec cut seems better.
But, once more, they just play, no problem and with this Borbeck beak, it really leaves me worry free.
Right now, I prefer them, but then again, this has been an iffy transition for me, having experienced frustrations of many kinds with them, bringing me to an opinion that the reeds are not as consistent as they say, however one must remember that we are always fiddling with reeds made from cane, so it seems less with plastic. The idea of lengthy use, (make sure you keep them clean as they accumulate calcium.) (This from a great payer and teacher who uses them, Richard Hawkins, who teaches at Oberlin) He has worked on the legere for them, developing the Quebec cut, and for Leblanc with the Opus II. Go to his website and listen to him play many fine performances using only Legere reeds. He plays them when he plays with the Orchestra, where he plays clarinet and Bass, using Legere on both.
So, it is interesting finding someone like Richard who is shall we say, current, not an old guy like myself.
My experiences with the hard rubber instrument is that they do not have the same quality as wood, not worse mind you, but definitely different. My feeling is , if you can work, either literally or figuratively with hard rubber, you can save a bundle of money, but it is a different quality, a different response, if you will.
If I were auditioning for a big job, got the job and I won the audition using a hard rubber instrument, I would swear by them, really. That is the way of the world.
I believe that a young kid who may be talented but who doesn’t have the strength to make it in an orchestra should not have to pay 3 grand for a horn that will eventually be in the closet, which is my reason for supporting Toms horns.
That, and the fact that the scale is about as good as there is in the industry, save for the altissimo high F#, which is flat, no matter how you slice it, and the thumbrest which is too high, and badly made. (I can’t stand it).
best to you and thanks for the ad.

The Clarinet. Teaching Chalumeau to Clarion

February 23, 2008

Most readers know that the clarinet developed and evolved from an earlier instrument called the Chalumeau. It as an instrument which was quite a bit shorter and consisted of only about an octave and a bit and simply didn’t overblow. The sound was similar to the Chalumeau register of todays clarinet. Quite soon , it was learned that that the instrument because of its inner bore overblew a twelfth instead of an octave as the recorder and other cylindrical instruments. When a key was installed on the back of the instrument and opened the bore the notes emitted were about a twelfth higher. This was the greatest single thing that ever happened to the clarinet and it set the stage for an instrument of an incredible range and palette of color: the clarinet of today.
Now as teachers, we are charged with teaching the entire range of the instrument from bottom to top and somehow the connecting points between the chalumeau and the clarion registers require teaching a combination of breathing and key manipulations to make a smooth and even transition.
Because we go from playing notes that require few if any fingers placed on the clarinet to all or most of them with the register key open, it is somewhat of a difficult manipulation.Sometimes this transition is called the “break”.Also this register key has developed into being used for the middle Bb, and is note on the instrument. The proper Bb vent is located on the clarinet but not in a convenient place in which to be able to play passages smoothly and with velocity, so it is used only occasionally. placed perfectly ,. In the end, the Bb is stuffy and usually a sharp note. It has developed an unfortunate reputation and is frequently called the break in the clarinet.
Whomever mentioned not mentioning the word BREAK should be commended,as this connotation can spread terror especially if explained by a teacher who may teach in this manner.
Whomever says leaving fingers on in order to make “it” easier is incorrect. Of course, if the throat of your clarinet is sharp as many are, this may in fact mask the problem, but it doesn’t lower the pitch that much, if at all. It dulls the notes quite well, making technic even less even.
Starting on the note above, the middle B is OK, but really doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is after all, going from the A to the B.
What does help is making quite sure that the most important finger is placed correctly in going from A to B.
The index finger of the left hand. This finger leads all of the others in leaving the A spatula and rolling to the first ring on the left hand.For young players or those that have trouble with A to B even in a professional situation (yes, there are those), practicing only moving cleanly from the A to the first ring will really help.
Than, do this while adding the rest of the fingers and it should be much smoother and more facile. Of course, it may not happen immediately and there needs to be real understanding of the concept and practice as well, however that initial sealing of A to B using the index finger of the left hand as the connecting point is the beginning of the end of the problem. In time, one can develop a perfectly smooth crossing making an even and pleasant sound as one makes the change from chalumeau to the clarion register.

Bass Clarinet problem

February 9, 2008

I recently came across your website and would appreciate any time you could offer my question. I played bass clarinet for about 5 years through school and was always pleased with sound quality and growth through my private lessons. After not playing for about 6 years, I have recently started playing again in a local band. I was happy with my ability to pick right up the first week. However, the second week I had tremendous difficulty. I started out fine but after about 45 minutes was really struggling to get any sound out of the instrument. I noticed particular problems around the upper part of the lower register- C D and E in particular. I found that the only was I was able to keep producing sound was to not tongue anything. For awhile, I was unable to get much of any sound out. I am not sure what I readjusted, but eventually the lower register “came back” except for the top few notes. The higher register wasn’t consistent but it was coming out if I didn’t tongue. I worked hard to maintain strong airflow, but it didn’t seem to matter. I’m using Vandoren 3 reeds. Of note, I used a different instrument the second week, but since I was fine for the first half of the rehearsal, I’m not sure if it’s the instrument or something I’m doing. Any suggestions on what I should look for in the instrument or in me? I found myself quite frustrated and puzzled after getting good quality the first week and through the first half of the second week.
Thanks so much for your time
Well, a lot of this could be the result of a horn which is not adjusted properly or one that is leaking. I wold certainly have this checked if possible. The least little leak could cause terrible problems with resistance.
Another thing is the fact that when you first restarted playing you were quite satisfied that you could. Then of course, you began to listen and you try to improve right away and it doesn’t happen.which is quite normal, especially on the bass.
Then, you must use less resistant reeds on the bass as it plays much better and more easily with a softer reed,/Support and not biting is quite important especially where you are experiencing difficulties.
Mouthpiece could also be a problem.
The volumes you are expected to play or feel pressed to play are also important, especially in a band. Do not play that horn too loudly, as it is not necessary. Play for yourself.That will be just fine.
I hope these things will help in some way. .

best wishes, sherman
On 8-Feb