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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000316.txt from 1995/01

From: Syd Polk <jazzman@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: Albert system clarinets
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 1995 12:28:09 -0500

New Orleans jazz musicians STILL prefer Albert system clarinets. (I know;
my tenant is one). They feel that the sound is brighter and bigger,
and that's what they want. Plus, they are all used to playing on them.

The major diffences in fingering:

- B/F# is fingered 123/1, and Bb/F is either 123/13 or 123/12(fork). This
is like oboe still is, and recorder, and to some extent, bassoon. This
makes certain scales harder, but does not impact arpeggios, which are
the mainstay of New Orleans improvisation.

- F#/C# is fingered 1; middle F is a twilight zone note. High C is fingered
R2. Middle F is usually fingered 2, but it is out of tune and stuffy,
and each instrument is different. High C, on the other hand, has a really
great sound, and many old classical players kept their Albert systems
for that note.

- Bb/Eb is fingered 13/1; once again like recorder, and once again, does
not adversly affect arpeggios, but hoses certain scales.

- There is no system of L/R pinky keys (Boehm clarinet is unique among
woodwinds in that regard). The F/C and the Ab/Eb key are on the right
hand; the E/B and the F#/C# are on the left hand. There are usually
rollers between them, and the player got good at slides. Keep in mind
that players rarely played in bad keys, so the slides weren't that frequent.

Keep in mind also that there are many variations on numbers of keys and
rings; any extras gave the player alternatives in fingering and intonation.

Which is superior? Well, Boehm won because the extra facility gained
by its fingering system enabled the modern music written at the time
to be played easier. Flutes also had the Boehm system applied, but
about fifty years earlier. Bassoons also underwent a transformation,
but the Heckel system is still a nightmare. I would hate to have to
learn French system! Oboes have not changed in basic fingering for
hundreds of years. Saxophones have a modern system since they were
invented so late.

There. All you ever wanted to know. And Woody Allen has the largest
collection of Albert Bb clarinets that I know of with over three hundred
instruments. He, of course, likes to play New Orleans jazz.

Syd Polk

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