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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000336.txt from 1998/03

From: Roger Garrett <>
Subj: Re: Altimetry register
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 14:43:19 -0500

On Thu, 5 Mar 1998, Cynthia M. Lee wrote:
> My problem is playing 4th's, 5ths, 6ths, etc. back and forth from the
> clarion register to the altissimo register. In particular, a'' and d'''
> tend to jump up to notes above g'''. I generally have to tongue the note
> to get it back down to the proper note. My teacher tells me that I must
> focus the air stream directly down the clarinet with lots of support from
> my abdomen. He also tells me to try and "think" the note without changing
> the direction of the air column or the embouchure. I feel that I am doing
> that. I have what I feel is a really good tone when playing long tones and
> straight scales to g'''. When I start broken arpeggios through the entire
> range, the problems begin. My teacher mentioned that the is a break
> between g'' and a'', and that is part of the problem.


Altissimo register, as many already know but you may be unaware, is very
picky as to the tongue position in the back of the throat. For example,
play an open G and then "squeak" on the open G....the first note (squeak)
you get out is a high D (a 12th higher). Try it on 1st space f = high c,
1st line one squeak higher on 1st line E and you
will get a little bit of a flat high G. This is often referred to as the
third partial. Try going back and forth between the E, B and high G while
fingering the E - without moving fingers, without tonguing, and by
breaking the air stream - just "huff" on each note. If you can move
between them at will, you have control of the tongue placement for those
notes.......for the test, slur between the notes using regular fingerings
and repeat the feelinging (tongue placement) that you had for each note as
you ascend to that note. When you slur back down (with regular
fingerings), you will need to move the tongue position a nanosecond before
you finger the note, or you will get the upper partial (a higher note than
expected....which is what is happening between A and D). does this help.....well....the fingering for the high D is also
the same fingering (minus the register key and with the 2nd register key
added - index finger LH) as low Bb. The D is the 3rd partial up,
and the G (which you keep accidentally hitting) is the 4th partial up
(actually, it is a G#, but it is so flat with this fingering it sounds
like a G - now you have a good alternate to a high G!). In essence,
you are overshooting the partial with the placement in the back of the
throat (tongue) - this is why your teacher trys to get you to "think" the
note - it is much easier than trying to locate an exact tongue position.

While some people believe that there is a valid break between high G and A
(in the altissimo), I really believe there are only breaks between throat
Bb and long B, and between high C and C#. The fictional "break" you may
be encountering is simply a problem of trying to mix and match fingerings
based on different partials. For example, if you use the standard
fingering altissimo G (based on a fingering of low A - is the 4th

Reg. key
Eb key

to move to a standard altissimo F# (based on low D - making it the third

Reg. key
Eb Key

you run the risk of slurring from high G to the fourth partial by accident
(altissimo Bb/A#!). The best way to avoid this is to slur from a 3rd
partial G fingering (overblown 3rd partial first line E or overblown
high B):

Reg. key
Eb key

to the 3rd partial F# shown above. You are very unlikely to hit a
higher partial (note) by accident.

In the case of the high G slur downward to high G, try slurring from your
regular high A (like high E) to an open G......I'll bet you get the
overblown partial (a flat high D). NOW......remember what that feels like
and substitute the regular D fingering. At first it will be kind of
squeely moving between them, but, with practice, the exaggerated tongue
placement will gradually be replaced by a memorized feeling ("thinking" as
your teacher put it) of where that high D is placed in the tongue.

You asked about an alternate fingering for high A....well, you can cheat.
If you over blow a throat A, you will get a somewhat flat high A. Try
overblowing a throat Bb and you will get a very flat high A# - so flat it
might be in an in tune high A (at least, it is in tune on my clarinet as I
just tried it!). You are now sitting on a 3rd partial note and moving to
a fingering for high D based on a 3rd partial (regular high D). This will
work in a pinch.

Good luck. Hope I didn't thoroughly confuse is much easier to

Roger Garrett

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