he effect of the sound in you oral cavtii y

February 14, 2016

Professor Friedland, I would like to communicate with you regarding the subject of the effect of the oral cavity in clarinet tone production . Your opinions as a clarinetist would be very much appreciated I communicated with you (only) once when I learned you were a colleague of ALLEN SIGEL, my teacher when I was an undergraduate at the then University of Buffalo, I hope this reaches you and I look forward to your reply.As for me it would be an exceptional pleasure to communicate with you re the subject above. Michel G. Mulawka PS; I trust the following will bring back a memory. I came across a picture of you and others performing (?) the Gyorgy Ligeti Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes @ the Albright Knox Art Gallery in 1965. I attended a second ‘performance’ (?) of same @ Albright – to this day ‘no comment’! save for/


Professor Friedland,

I would like to communicate with you regarding the subject of the effect of the oral cavity in clarinet tone production
Your opinions as a clarinetist would be very much appreciated

I communicated with you (only) once when I learned you were a colleague of ALLEN SIGEL, my teacher when I was an undergraduate at the then University of Buffalo,

I hope this reaches you and I look forward to your reply.As for me it would be an exceptional pleasure to communicate with you re the subject above.

Michel G. Mulawka

PS; I trust the following will bring back a memory.

I came across a picture of you and others performing (?) the Gyorgy Ligeti Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes @ the Albright Knox Art Gallery in 1965.
I attended a second ‘performance’ (?) of same @ Albright – to this day ‘no comment’! save for/


Hello mr mulawka,\

easy answer, the cavity you mention has virturtually no effect.
The response is diRECTLY THROUGH YOUR EARS ONLY. filtered through your perception of sound, directly connected to the functionality 0f your embouchure, you actually control the effect through all of your development.

The sound as we say, is in your head.

cordially, ]
sherman friedland

The Leblanc Dynamic, Pete Fountain model

December 31, 2015

Dear Sir:

the clarinet of which you speak is simply the Pete Fountain model Leblanc, and it was and is an excellent instrument,Over a long time and trying many clarinets, all of the Leblancs I have ever played are really good insruments. The very best Leblanc was and is the Opus, designed by Tom Ridenour, when he was chief designer for Leblanc, and there were others. the Sonata, and the Conceto. Better in tune, excellent sounding and buit very correctly and well.
On 27-Dec-15, at 5:52 PM, Ríordan James Flynn wrote:

Hi there,


I have a Leblanc Dynamic H clarinet with the unusually articulated G# key and and a Pete Fountain signature on the bell. According to the internet, the serial numbers for this model start at 268xx, but mine is 23771. These models were made sometime in the 50s?

It was given to me with the idea that it once belonged to Pete Fountain, but I imagine this is apocryphal. The clarinet came to me by a man named John Hayslip, who it was given to by a man named Tater Danke. Hayslip swore that Danke had gotten the instrument from Fountain, but there’s no telling, as he passed away some years ago.

However, a quirk of this instrument is that its larger pads were signed by someone named Bob Mario. To my knowledge most people don’t sign clarinet pads!

I’m not interested in selling the instrument, but I’m very curious as to what you might know about it.

Thank you in advance for your time.

All the best,


November 16, 2015

G clarinet.

This is really a historic tale.  sixty to 80 years ago there was an almost fierce competition beween Selmer and Buffet

Most clarinetists playing in symphony orchestras in the US played the Buffet clarinet, almost specifically the R13 model.

Gigliotti, principal in Philadelphia played the Buffet as did all others playing in virtually all US orchestras. This was when I first began to learn to play, and of course, what I wound up with was the Selmer. Why?

Because , living in Boston, where all the setion played Selmer, this was my sspration, tp play Selmer, which I finally did, after much searching.

But, as a young man, I knew of the Buffet and its use in most other US orchestras.

Of course, this has all changed now, starting with the arrival of the Selmer 10G, refering to Gigliotti in Philadelphia. Selmer, it is said, actually produced a Buffet copy, or one that was fairly close in response, to his Buffet.

The production at first, quite successful, and some played and responded very well. Others did not. I had two sets of these and frankly, didnt play well well enough to discrn the difference. At that time, we all played in university=conservatory orchestras, and frankly, unless hearing the horn played in an orchestra, a professional ensemble, your guess was as good as mine.

What has transpired since the has or have been vast improvements in all instruments, prices rising accordingly until now and including all manufacturers all clarinets have improvd exponentially , and many different orchestral players perform on both or wither of the different bore, producing a more mellow sound with better resonance. Comparison, these days is simply a matter of ones opinion, and it is all of that, nothing more.

Of course, mouthpieces and reeds have also changed exponentially, and of course, reeds made of artifical material, not cane, but a mixture of cane and plastics of all kinds. Literally everything has changed, especially all materials, wooden instruments are still favored, but many are made fromhard rubber, whichis much easier to,machine nd finshe and stands the rigors of tempeature changes much better than wood. What mouthpiece doyou play? Instrument, and reeds ae the question. Everyone learns to play very well, but the diminished number of professional orchestras are all mitigating factors. that is the whole story of SELMER AND BUFFET


sherman friedland

From Malaysia, clarinet budget is much too high

June 13, 2015

Hello, my name is Nur Daniel and I’m 17. I lived in Malaysia. I played Clarinet for about 4 years now and I’m very passionate in developing my skills. I played only in a wind band competition and I never had a chance to played with a symphony. As youngsters like me career are important we faced SPM or O level. By the results we achieved we may get scholars and study abroad. But the problem is classicals music or instrumental music are not to popular in Malaysia in terms of job prospects. I really dissapointed with the facts that I cannot pursue my ambitions. And one day, my father gave me an idea. He says that I should take my musics as the seconds part of life . So I had been wandering, what is the best way to study something at the same time I can studies music too? Secondly, I am from an average family.So,any plan that I should take to keep on studying music but only use least amount of money? For your info, Im trying to save up some money to buy a clarinet. For 4 years playing clarinet, what are the suggestions of clarinet brands that I should buy. And my budget would be around $4000-5000.

You have lived in Malaysia, third largest producer of rubber in the world.  So, why not a clarinet budget of,circa 1900 for arguably the best made and the most stable material for a clarinet, the best tuned, and an instrument that will never crack or vary in pitch , in variable temperatures.

William Ridenour designs and produces this clarinet from Duncanville, Texas

Without question, your best choice . 

Ridenour responds:

Sherman, I don’t think it can be said better than you said it.
With all the advantages of hard rubber–and the remarkable lower cost–you wonder what clarinet players could be thinking…..actually, you wonder why they don’t think but act like sheeple.


Selmer 9* with voicing hole

April 23, 2015

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I am following the auction of a series 9* on ebay. It appears to be in excellent condition, having been completely overhauled and reconditioned (according to the seller who has an excellent ebay feedback record). One aspect of this clarinet that leaves me with some doubt. A small “voicing hole” at some time was drilled in the bell of the clarinet. Could you advise me as to the purpose of a “voicing hole” such as the one in this clarinet, and how effective is it to achieve its purpose. Another concern I have is the effect of this “voicing hole” has on the resale value of the clarinet.

Thank you for your fine discussion group. You comments have guided me over the years.


Dear JT
Concerning the 9* clarinet you are considering , as a Selmer user and clinician for many years, I might suggest that you think twice about the purchase. Although advertised as a big bore clarinet, the 9 was just a wee bit bigger than the 9*, which was talked about being a smaller bore. In experience, neither seemed to be an outstanding instrument, either in the Selmer lineup or in “the business”
That is not to say that you may be considering a great horn, but only to give you my impression.

The “voicing hole” opens a new doorThis was done on many different instruments of all makes, and it served several purposes, (supposedly). Perhaps to open up the low e or the throat b. These clarinets were  heavier than those of today, many of which have either eliminated the bell or narrowed it considerably. The bell ring was much heavier than those of today, and there was another problem as well.If you are a player who holds the clarinet between your knees, that act usually lowers the pitch ever so slightly. On an already flat note, it becomes noticable. The voicing hole was just like a hole in the ground or, one supposes, the head.It does absolutely nothing, regardless of any claims of which you may hear..

The 9 and 9* were superceded by the Centered Tone, even a bit wider than the 9 or 9* bores, but still, not really a big bored clarinet. The CTs are considered better instruments

Stay well

Decisions, Decisions, and Ridenours response

April 21, 2015


“Thanks for the recommendation.

For the record I once owned a Selmer series 9. It is a large bore clarinet and both it and the center tone are quite sharp in the right hand low register to the rest of the horn. I would avoid it if for no other reason than the tuning is not adequate to modern standards.
Otherwise, being completely unbiased on this matter, there is, in my opinion, no better clarinet to do “gigging” with than the 576 Lyrique. and, it won’t crack.”  tom

Hi Mr. Friedland,

Thank you for your wonderful blog, which is seems truly an amazing work of love!

I’m a 58 year old musician/teacher in CT. Saxophone and flute are my major “gigging” instruments. I’ve only played clarinet a little over the years. I really want to get into playing it more seriously, and the focus would be on traditional jazz and some show playing.

I now really would like to get a pro instrument ( I currently have a Buffet E11, and a Yamaha student model I play with my students with B45 mouthpieces). As you can imagine, at my age, I’d prefer to only have to make this purchase one time, haha!

I have a chance to get a Selmer Series 9, my repairman has two used ones in his shop. I’m intrigued by the CenterTone, and some have said the R13 is the safest bet.

If you had just one chance to buy just one, and were going to do the type of playing I’m doing, what would you get ( or target)?

Any suggestions or guidance would be welcome!

Thanks so much,


Dear CC:

Thank you.

First and foremost, there are no “safe bets” in any clarinet purchase.

And, there are really no “great buys”. You have only the commentaries of many people, the majority of whom simply don’t know either. They may have made a good purchase and like the instrument. Someone else may find it awful.

No offense, but any instrument being sold by a repairperson is subject to scrutiny because it , having been repaired, calls into question both the horn and the technician. These are not idle comments or those reflecting  anything save for 80  years  doing all of these things, repeatedly. I love the clarinet, love playing them, love , even more, trying them, and best of all,buying  them. It  has been a life crammed full with purchases of every horn available at a particular time.

Not only that, but any clarinet you may try, may feel terrific on one day and fairly gruesome the next.

Why? You may ask.

“the nature of the beast”We are a virtual hotbed of a can of  enormous worms, all wrapped up into complicated neurotic tendencies, changeable in nano seconds. The human condition is highly complex. Just ask me and I will reply, endlessly.

All of the above can be called variables.  In obtaining another clarinet, it is advisable to eliminate all possible variables. You mention several brands of instrument, some of which have good reputations, some, not so good .

You are going to be “giggimg” and doing shows on saxophone and clarinet and flute.

Clarinet are prone to variables, depending upon the  material of which they are made, they vary considerably when being warmed up, ready to play.

This variance is due to the ambient temperature outside of the hall, in your, car, taken out of the car and being subject to the heat of your air column, which should be high enough for you to breathe, hopefully. Cold wood hates hot breath.

And you will not be able to get the low notes of the horn high enough , until after the first intermission, while the leader glares at you, mercilessly.

Think about an instrument that is more stable than any other clarinet. better than Buffet, Selmer, Rossy, anything.

After warming up, you would prefer an instrument that tunes well, note to note, and can achieve any interval far simpler than any other. That instrument is rare among all clarinets, save for only one.

Think about the most elusive quality of all, the sound of the instrument. We think of colors like dark, light, crystal, perhaps even charteuse or fuschia. Preference amongst us , is usually called dark. a hopelessly indefinable, not connected to any color at all.Ask ten players to define dark. I know.

Eyes will roll around in the head , people will look at their watches or for any out of this important question. There is one.

Do you play out of doors? Parades? perhaps, a circus, outdoor shows? Will your clarinet stand up to the pressures of being played upon loudly, unremittingly, and endlessly? Will it stay in adjustment? Or, will the barrel become frozen to the first joint? There is really only one new instrument that can deliver these kinds of statistics, one, and only one. That instrument is made from natural hard rubber, and can be purchased for a fraction of the price of any other.

They are designed by arguably, the finest designer of clarinets ,  William Thomas Ridenour.

Tom is in Dallas, call him, speak with him, and find out my true real clarinet.

You may not have to practice as much.( or, you may lose weight, or not)

stay well, sherman

letter from a “new” Selmer Centered Tone owner

February 25, 2015

pict08Dear Sherman:

I became the owner last September of a beautiful Henri Selmer Paris Bb clarinet,  Staff at the orchestra have been unable to provide any information about this instrument’s history. This clarinet has a distinctive octave vent with a 6-sided vent hole cover. It is a seven ring clarinet with alternate Eb/Ab and C#/G# fingerings. Can you add anything to my understanding about this particular clarinet?   I.S., LONDON, ONTARIO    

This question with its implications is reminiscent of many years of my own clarinets and even a good part of ny career. For me, the six sided vent key saved an entire concerto for me, and one that will never be forgotten. In the mid 60s, I was a Fromm Fellow in and at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony. Actually, I had just gotten married and we spent our honeymoon summer on the Lake near Tanglewood, looking at a small faamily of Canadian geese who also chose to live near our cottage on the lake. I remember it as a beautiful, even pristine summer. We had a lovely dog, Taffee, a Shetland sheep dog, rescued from the spca in Lenox and she stayed with us for 15 years. At the beginning of the summer, I had auditioned in order to play the Easley Blackwood Clarinet Concerto during the festival, conducted by Gunther Schuller. I won that audition and played one of the first prformances of that work. It was on the first night of the Festival of Contmporary music . This was no ordinary work, terribly complex and technically challenging as well. I remember only one thng about that concert, and frankly, it was not the Concerto, it was however, the six sided octave vent key. Directly before the Concerto, I was swabbing my instrument. I don’t remember the direction of the swab, but it stuck, and the more or less that I pulled on it, the more stuck it became. Picture yourself. This had never happened, before or after and momentarily I panicked. I passed the clarinet around so that the others sitting nearby could see my problem. In a few moments, another clarinetist opened his case and took out several small wrenches. One of the wrenches fit the six sided vent key cover. It was cleared of the swab in a few moments. Things proceded as expected, but I have never ever thought of the work since, only the panic of that big selmer swab stuck in the top joint of my Centered Tone Clarinet. Somewhere 808 sometimes listed as a Mazzeo System clarinet.your description, you mention the 808 model, I studied with Mazzeo and played this system of clarinet for many years, and found them superb and excellent., and totally reliable. I can easily imagine the possibility that your instrument was once a Mazzeo System instrument. Not everyone was as happy as was I and there was only one reason. The system was unavailable from any other clarinet manufacturer and this was the time of others, especially in orchestras. Selmer has always been at the forefront of model changes and innovations (think of the 10G and other models)

The hypothesis is possible. But, so are others

In any event, what is important is the quality of your instrument, its response and your enthusiasm. Thank you,