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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000011.txt from 1997/12

From: Da Shouryu-man <>
Subj: Bass clarinet necks
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 13:17:48 -0500

The problem with the bass clarinet neck is not really a problem at all.
As a clarinet major with an emphasis on low clarinets (all low clarinets),
I have encountered this topic many times with different people. I also
moderately proficient with saxes (all, sans the soprano and sopranino).

In truth, there is no such thing as a 'sax embochure (sp?)'. The
embochures of
the saxes and clarinets are the same fundamentally. The real difference
is pressure. The construction of the saxophone requires that from the
middle C (fourth space) and up, you can play with pretty much the same
pressure the clarinets, and virtually the same embochure altogether.
Anything below the middle C requires less and less pressure on the reed.
This holds true with all saxes in my experience (I am told that the
soprano requires an unusally loose embochure, however). The ANGLE has
NOTHING to do with the sound, only ARTICULATION. Saxes, in general, do
not use the exact same tonguing method clarinetists use (or SHOULD use, as
the case often is), which is the tip of the tounge striking only the tip
of the reed. Because of the angle that the mouthpiece is inserted,
saxists cannot tongue as fast with this method with so much mouthpiece in
their mouth. This is because the tongue must be pulled back farther into
the mouth to make a tip to tip connection. Clarinetists do not have this
problem because the mouthpiece is angled up more--we have the same amount
of mouthpiece in our mouths, but it doesn't protrude as far back due to
the angle, so our tongues can remain relatively less strained than saxes.
Saxes generally tongue a little farther back on their tongue instead to
compensate for the angle.

Now, to apply this to bass clarinet. Since the angle of general necks
place the angle much like saxes, use the same embochure as you would on a
clarinet and sax. It's not different, really. (Note: Generally, you
play on softer reeds on lower instruments, so the pressure won't be quite
as firm; that is the one notable difference between sop. clar. and bass
clar.) Instead of tonguing tip to tip as you would on clarinet, tongue as
you would on sax, a bit farther back on the tongue...I might even go so
far as to suggest anchor tongue at first, then work your way closer to the
tip of the tongue. It IS possible to tongue tip to tip on the 'incorrect'
angled necks, but you most likely won't be able to tongue as fast. (This
holds true on saxes as well.)

The point? The emborchures are the same. Just alter the articulation
slightly. Now, if you've been playing clarinet for forever and are
completely new to bass, yes, it will be awkward. But it's really not all
that different.

Shouryu Nohe

Coming soon! A whole new Dope-onna-rope! That's right! Shouryu is
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(This does not mean, however, that Shouryu has a girlfriend yet.)

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