“Darkening my sound”

Dear Mr. Friedland:

I am playing on a Yamaha Allegro instrument with a Yamaha 5c mouthpiece and vandoren v12 reeds. I am looking for ways to darken my tone. My director said that some of it has to do with the instrument and I really really really don’t want to have to buy a different instrument. I love my current clarinet. I didn’t know if there were certain mouthpieces or reeds or different ways of playing that could make my tone more dark. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!

Dear JA:
several years ago I came upon the Yamaha Allegro Clarinet, designated by the ACL 550. It was interesting to me because of the package in which it came and because it also came with a leatherette case cover over the excellent case. But it was also interesting because of the look of the horn which had gold plated posts and silver plated keys. And it played well, actually quite well. I was not t in love with the barrel which seemed to cut the upper clarion a bit, but was improved with a different barrel, almost anything, I further found. It was in tune and had a pleasant response as do most of the upper end Yamaha clarinets. Further, it had recently been discontinued, making the instrument more affordable. It had a certain appeal, let us say. Some had a bell with a cut-out section, supposedly to brighten the low clarion,some did not.
One thing to remember: a discontinued horn is not necessarily bad in any way; more, it makes more room for newer or other models models, for the competition is always pressing against Yamaha and indeed , all makers. Yamaha has been especially laden with different numberings and other designations.

The instrument is not bright or dark,what ever those terms mean, and they seem to mean different things to different players. One must remember that there are numerous changes in these designations, but not many actual differences. Of course there are those who will argue, however I maintain that these cute looking horns with all their funny names and reputations require one thing that is not part of the package: they don’t come with a tone, either dark or light, or bright. That designation is all ours to bring to the horn, and we are all different.
Mouthpiece can make a small difference, especially if the mouthpiece is generally not well made, however the Yamaha mouthpiece is not e a bad mouthpiece. Yes, I prefer something else, but that is a whole other article.(Hawkins,Fobes, Hite come to mind, in that order).

So, don’t you dare buy another horn to satisfy the whim of a director who may not himself or herself ,a clarinetist, and especially ,if they are. Clarinetists directors are notoriously opinionated folk. (Just ask me).
Darken your sound. Brighten your sound. The verbosity indicated in such an response eclipses all imagination. The sounds we make are in general a product of many things, but it is we who make the sound, it is not the clarinet. The horn has a response, but whether or not that response pleases us is quite superficial and easily argued . Read any description by any maker and it will be filled with meaningless ranting.

Most Van Doren mouthpieces are in general brighter than others, sharper as well, but easily fixable. The Van Doren take on the Chedeville mouthpiece have proved to me to offer the best possibilities and are more in tune to the standard “american pitch of A=440. the 360, B44,B45, B46 tende to have a brighter response. The M13, 15, 30 and 40 a better response. But still, it is the player and his background and even the way he hears the clarinet that determines the never ending search for bright or dark. Thin light reeds usually produce brighter quality, a reed having more heart will help to eleminate some of those higher frequencies and add to the even quality of the sound.

The comment,”darken your sound “is purely an academic statement which I would simply ignore. As a a person who has been playing for about 60 years, I find the comment to be thin, in and of itself.”Some of it has to do with the instrument” is a repulsive comment. Ask the director to define the terms of use. I have found that Van Doren V12 reeds are not my choice, however there are so many different kinds of reeds available. I have used the German White Master Van Doren reeds for many years and recently changed to Zonda which for me, are much more consistent. And don’t buy another instrument, the worst idea of all, especially if you like the one you have.

Best wishes and keep practicing.

sincerely, Sherman

Dear Mr Friedland:

Thank you very much for the reply! What barrel would you suggest as a replacement?
Hi Joshua:

The barrel I would recommend for replacement, especially for darkening the sound is the following: hard rubber :
It should be of some help and also, the price is quite reasonable.
His website is on your browser.
Best wishes, Sherman
Ridenour Ivorlone Clarinet Barrels

Tonal and Responsive Characteristics Compared to Grenadilla

Most players find Ivorolon barrels to be darker, more resonant and more responsive than Grenadilla wood.


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One Response to “Darkening my sound”

  1. bulldoggy2008 says:

    Mr. Friedland, thanks for your wisdom-laden reply to this individual who is unhappy with his “bright” clarinet sound. For the most part, it is the player not the mouthpiece. Having said that, let me be a bit incongruent to say that I have found the best mouthpiece I have ever played on in over 50 years of clarinet playing, and having gone through numerous mouthpieces. It is a vintage Morgan “classical” mouthpiece, the RM-10. It has a facing of 34 and a tip opening of 1.10. It is typical of Ralph Morgan’s surperb workmanship. Please keep up your wonderful postings and sage comments.

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