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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000678.txt from 1997/09

From: avrahm galper <>
Subj: The Chalumeau Register
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 10:22:31 -0400

The Chalumeau Register
The low register of the clarinet, the Chalumeau, seems to be neglected
by many players who concentrate on development of the middle and high
register, to the detriment of what is surely one the of the most
beautiful and effective tone colors in the whole family of woodwinds.
Some earlier vituosi also preferred the tone of the middle and high
register. One of them, Carl Baermann, in the preface to his tutor, says
"The tone is beautiful when it has a full vibratory metallic clear sound
and retains its character in all ranges and shadings. In a word, when it
resembles a full and beautiful soprano voice. If this register (the
clarion) which is the finest on the clarinet, is beautiful, then the
lower tones will also necessarily be good."
One might be tempted to consider this last phrase as a model for
practice and concentrate on the upper register hoping the low register
will also be "necessarily" good.
I think, though, that the low register of the clarinet is the most
important for control of the entire range of the clarinet.
It may be of interest to recall an experiment in the last century, of
acoustician Herman Smith, to find the force of breath expended in the
oboe, bassoon, trumpet and clarinet.
In the case of the oboe, bassoon and trumpet, the pressure increased as
one went up the scale, while in the clarinet the reverse was true, the
pressure went down.
This phenomenon was not confirmed a recent experiment with a dummy
clarinet, when one had to increase the air pressure when one went up
into the higher register.
It seems to me that experienced players do as in the Smith experiment,
while beginners do as in the dummy experiment.
If one plays in the low register with a soft reed, as most beginners do,
one would have to increase the air pressure to get the upper register
If, however, one uses more air pressure in the low register, as playing
with a harder reed, then one could get the upper register with more
The author of an early clarinet tutor, Thomas Willman, wrote in 1824 "It
is impossible for the upper notes of the clarinet to be of the right
quality unless the reed and lip are sufficiently flexible in the
chalumeau tones. This part of the clarinet scale, the chalumeau, is too
commonly neglected by Practitioners."
Many early methods had some low register exercises.
Klose has pages of low register in his book but does not explain why
they are there.

I have based my Clarinet Method on the low register concept and it works
very well.
One has to have full control of the low register to get the best results
on the entire clarinet.

Avrahm Galper
Adjunct Professor
Faculty of Music
Toronto University

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