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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000930.txt from 1997/12

From: Neil Leupold <>
Subj: Narrow concept / adaptation
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 14:25:22 -0500

On Mon, 22 Dec 1997, Roel de Vrijer wrote:

> 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.

This is an interesting statement. It ignites a thread in my mind
because the degree of flexibility and adaptability which is necessary
to play different instruments simultaneously is a matter of course
from my perspective. I play soprano A, Bb, Eb, and bass clarinet
in various combinations all of the time. Every single one of these
instruments has a different level of resistance, different intonation,
different adaptive fingering combinations, and a different psychological
approach when I pick them up -- although, naturally, I've tailored my A
and Bb to be as close a match as possible in all of these areas over
time. One might add yet another instrument to this standard arsenal,
and that is the ensemble itself. Making the hundreds of adjustments
for the instrument is compounded by the changes which occcur within
an ensemble over the course of a rehearsal. The pitch of the ensemble
rises, different soloists and choirs are played in combination or
in alternation, and one must be able to adapt all of the fundamental
areas of musicianship to each of these situations and more.

What I've noticed during 20 years of playing is a mania among orchestral
players with regard to equipment. Everybody is scrambling for mouthpieces
and ligatures and barrels and different clarinets and such, in order to
gain some mechanical or acoustic advantage. I never absorbed this obsession,
although I am more aware now than before of the potential impact that
different equipment can have on a player's ease of performance. What
brought me down to earth was the experience of "blossoming" back in
college where, spontaneously, I simply began to relax and grow by leaps
and bounds as a player. I do believe that one should get the best
equipment they can find, which is why I finally broke down, took out
a student loan, and bought a pair of Buffet Prestige clarinets. I
wanted to make sure that any further possible impedance to my progress
was attributable directly to me, and not the instrument. But after that,
it became obvious that it was those hours in the practice room, with
the tuner and metronome and the scale/etude books, which would ultimately
enable me to sound convincingly my best -- no matter what equipment I held
in my hands at the time. Through Ricardo's post, everybody now knows
that he is a gadget freak, but nobody would ever suggest that he needs
any of the bells and whistles in order to sound incredible, no matter
what clarinet you handed him. Maybe I'm wrong here and am assigning a
level of consummate adaptability to the best professionals which is not
entirely warranted. But for myself, my standards are at that level, and
I'm curious to know if most others cling to a certain clarinet or mouth-
piece or ligature in order to insure (as opposed to just ensure) their
identities as solid performers. In others words, if you were on tour
and your clarinet were damaged or stolen an hour before a concert, and
the only available replacement were a perfectly conditioned resonite
Bundy and an unaltered Vandoren 5RV, would you be completely lost and
cancel your performance? Or would the ability to consciously invoke
physical and mental relaxation enable you to evaluate the "new" instru-
ment and mouthpiece successfully, thereby enabling you to adapt and
render a convincing performance to the audience with nobody the wiser?


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