Problems with the C clarinet

Dear Professor Friedland:

First, a belated happy new year 2010.

I think I will begin by asking if whether or not the altissimo fingerings on a C clarinet can be different from that of the Bb, or this is merely a consequence of inadequate skills on my part. When I tried the Amati 351, I found that I have to change my fingering somewhat for above C6. As I’ve never had formal instruction, I don’t know if this is the norm for C, and whether or not if same can be expected for clarinets in different keys.
Another question I have would be on how that is it that the Grenadilla instrument seems to become more in-tune and giving me a notably better response after I’ve played on it for some minutes. Although I was never able to get the instrument exactly in-tune, I found that intonation improved after the instrument had warmed itself, which is something that I have not noticed with the composite clarinets that I have. How and why is this so?

Lastly, I would like to know if whether or not evaluating a Clarinet purely from its physical finishing, mechanical reliability, fluidity of keyworks and its durability could circumvent being blinded into finding that “magic bullet” of a clarinet, for that the subjective nature of one’s sound should only be treated as a mean for the buyer to build a bias as to choose the instruments the buyer desires most out of the potential lot.
Regards

Hello and thank you for the New Year wishes, which I reciprocate.
What mouthpiece are you using on the C clarinet? If you are using the Bb mouthpiece, you are correct, the only differentiation being the quality thereto. In general, and I do believe you are talking about high C, when you mention C6, that is two ledger lines above the treble clef. This requires no change in fingerings and the cause is an incorrectly formed embouchure,or a reed which is softer than should be played , or probably most importantly a lack of suppport..It doesn’t mean that you have to squeeze the note or blow harder or take more mouthpiece into you mouth.
There are occasions when I open up a resonance key in the actual altissimo, however you should be able to play everything on the C as you do your Bb, with only small modifications.

Wooden clarinets are really less stable than are ABS or hard rubber, which are the most stable. Wooden clarinet have to be warmed up carefully. The case must be opened , the clarinet allowed to breathe and adjust itself to the temperature of the room in which you are playing. Then, you may warm the instrument by passing air through it. Only then will it beging to assimilate the temperature and your hot breath and begin to play it in  tune, if in fact it can, but it will never play in tune if you and your embouchure are not also warmed up Grenadilla instruments are simply not terribly well in tune. They can be tuned, but usually only by experts, who can hear and act on what they hear, with precision.
You most probably will not find that “magic bullet” as you call it, without it having at least some of the excellent physical characteristic to which you allude. From your interesting letter,  I might suggest learning more about support, embouchure, and reed choosing; private instruction will benefit.

I hope I’ve answered your questions
best of luck with your C and happy New Year, sincerely
Sherman

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