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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000926.txt from 1997/12

From: Roel de Vrijer <>
Subj: french and german (was Morales)
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 11:14:53 -0500

Somebody wrote:

> > Dear Dan,
> >
> > I agree with your point that we should strive to play works as the
> > composer has intended. But what i dont agree on is that one should
> > ones standard of excellence to do so. Yes you can buy a Bb basset clarinet
> > from a German brand but why would sacrifice tone and intonation to just play
> > few notes?

%m{kD=,/?0F%nYH{Qo s^KY answered:

> Why would you think that he would play out of tune or diminish his
> standards by playing on a German clarinet? Who says that anything
> is so sacrificed by doing this? There are those who suggest that
> exactly the opposite is the case; i.e., that the French instruments
> are inferior.

Dan Leeson wrote:

> And David, I think you will agree that it takes a lot of time to really
> get used to any instrument, though one which is deficient in intonation
> is going to be out of the running before one begins. But my experience
> with Wurlitzers were that they were spot on pitch for every note of
> the scale.

Dan Leeson also wrote:

> What I was saying was that most people, and possibly Morales, are
> unaware that German clarinets are also made in a French system at
> special request. But I do not believe that he would dismiss a
> German clarinet based on its being out of tune.

I switched from playing on Buffet Crampon RC's to French system ('reform Boehm')
Wurlitzers about half a year ago.

>From my experience I can say the following. Both on the Buffet's and on
the Wurlitzers it perefectly possible, even very easy, to play out of tune.
Also on both sets of instruments it is perfectly possible, be it with a little
more effort, to play in tune.

But Dan is right: it takes time to get accustomed.
Intonation, among other things, is very different.
For example, on the Buffets the b and c in the upper clarion register tended
to be low, so I had to compensate somehow with embouchure.
On the Wurlitzers these same notes tend to be high and just the opposite
compensation is required. With long b and c it is just the other way round.
I must say that I like the Wurlizers more in this respect: it is nice to
be able to relax on the higher notes.

What I personally would not like, and this is relevant for the other quotes,
is to play the two types of instruments simultaneously.
In switching you would also have to switch the automatisms needed
to adjust each instruments idiosynchracies. That seems hard to me.

Moreover, not only intonation is different. Everything is, except for the
required fingerings.

To wind up: it seems plausible that playing a german instrument (one is
not accustomed to) may diminish quality of tone and intonation,
without that instrument being in any respect 'inferior'.

Roel de Vrijer
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Dept of Math and Computer Sc


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