“C” Clarinet, a different, lovely response

August 18, 2011
  The Schubert Violin Sonatina, Opus 137, the first one in D, and the Milhaud Ouverture Suite. I played the whole thing on the C clarinet.

As fars as the C clarinet , it is far superior to the Bb clarinet. Why? Because it is basically better in tune with itself, the timbre and tuning being more matching that of the Bb clarinet. It is easier to “sing” on the instrument, and, if endurance is a problem, you can play it far longer with less fatigue. For me, I would change all of the repertoire to Clarinet in C, including chamber music. Mainly,  most classical composition was written for the C clarinet. So, while for some of you, this may sound like pure sacrilege. Please try or buy one. By the way, you can play all the music for the violin or any other c instrument. For most clarinetists who are not symphonic clarinetists (with jobs), this is a great benefit. (There are some performers who request the clarinetist in the orchestra to play the Beethoven clarinet solo on the C clarinet. Why? It is original in many caes, and it sounds better, travels better and is more in tune.)

You can make a better sound, have more endurance, be more in tune, play more music than you every realized existed. You vastly outnumber almost all other clarinetists, so get a C, a digital piano, which will fit easily in your room, your living room, is easily movable.

The  three Schubert Sonatinas for Violin, Opus 137 are gorgeous, completely playable , and they work perfectly with  piano, and , a digital will save you time, money, and tylenol.

If you wish to play any clarinet sonata, you need to transpose the part, or have it transposed digitally. You will sound better.

We used  for accompaniment, an instrument which was  in my earlier years, anathema: a (Roland) Digital Piano. I would never go near one of these. I would rather have played on or with a 7 or 9 foot Steinway, sometimes untuned, sometimes too high, or too low, in a Church where the temperature was hovering around 55-60F. There was so much difficulty, and these were CBC radio concerts, no retakes. Once, in Montreal in mid-winter we played a concert in a church, with the temperature lower than 50F. I brought a small electric heater with me. The bottom of the clarinet, warmed by the heater, was in tune. The rest  I thought, was hideous. (I hate flat!)
I approached this digital with extreme caution. As I’m sure your’re aware. these things begin with sampling and then simply using the sample as the pattern for the whole instrument. They have a few different piano sounds, originally played by a pianist on a piano, recorded, then digitized. Here is the surprise: It was perfectly in tune, right on 440, straight through the piano and my horn, (using my Korg tuner, prior to the concert).
Perhaps the best thing about the piano with sounds created electronically is, that it has no strings and is always in tune. The sound is quite acceptable for chamber music, and perhaps also outstanding is, it has volume control. (Have you not played a concert where the pianist is unbearably loud, and insists on keeping the piano lid up, (and his or her wife or  partner insists this sounds best)

Compared to acoustic pianos, digital pianos are generally far less expensive.
Most models are smaller and considerably lighter, but there are large ones as well.
They have no strings and thus do not require tuning.
Depending on the digital piano, they may include many more instrument sounds including strings, guitars, organs, and more.
They are much more likely to incorporate a MIDI implementation.
They may have more features to assist in learning and composition.
They usually include headphone output.
They often have a transposition feature.
They do not require the use of microphones, eliminating the problem of audio feedback in sound reinforcement, as well as simplifying the recording process.

Get a C. They are truly joyous to play.

Have a ball.



Permanent Reed, is it possible?

August 7, 2011

Sunday   afternoon, I played in a concert of Chamber music, which was played and received well
All of the rehearsals were played on the same synthetic reed, all of my preparation on this same artificial reed, never having moved it from my mouthpiece, for about three months.It is still on the mouthpiece.
I may play it again , perhaps remove it , wash it and the mouthpiece and then go on.Maybe I should frame it.

After all of the hype, advertisement, cost. which promise endless use, no problems whatsoever and continuous playing. perhaps it was time to try  the theory.

As a clarinetist who has spent a lifetime of fiddling with clarinet reeds, every aspect of reeds, I decided to take all of that “endless” business and put it to good use.After or before all, these reeds need no moistening prior to play. While there are some who do not believe this, to try the theory, one must accept the premise: they do not need moistening and/or other breaking in procedures.

After you make your choice, using a non-metalic ligature, fastening the reed to your moiuthpiece, you are ready to “rock and roll’ as the current parlance suggests.  And so it went in my case. And in my clarinet case. After every practice session, and rehearsal, I would simply replace my mouthpiece cap, remove the mouthpiece as is, and put in back in the case with the rest of my clarinet, Gradually, it became a part of my clarinet. (Initially, I was cautious, always practicing my usual warmup procedures, but I would just continue on and rehearse what had to be rehearsed. Getting used to the procedure is gradual, but quicker than one might think, It is so much more preferable to simply put the whole clarinet together and simply play .

I shall not go into  more than half a century of complete insanity of reed choosing, preparation, acceptance or rejection in equal amounts. Or the trials and tribulations of my wife in listening to every concert, every note and then answering the  extensive Gestapo-Type Interrogation through which I would put the poor woman after every concert, starting with “Was it in tune”, and “what about the reed”? (The fact that Linda has the finest ear and musical sensitivity I have ever experienced, happens to be true.)

After this concert I realized that I had played the entire episode on one single reed.

I suggest that all of you might try the same exercise, which might save you hundreds of dollars and avoid the embarrassment of picking,curing, assessing, shaving, cutting, trying, drying, praying hoping and avoiding.

All of these many things are most probably habitual, regardless of what you are using for a reed.  It is possible you will find, to avoid this time-consuming process of acceptance and rejection, trying and waiting , curing, and shaving, and all of the music-consuming senseless procedures we do as clarinetists.

It is possible. That reed will remain on my mouthpiece .  (My wife Linda, at each concert.)

Stay well.Play better,