Klarinet Archive - Posting 000805.txt from 1998/04
From: ROBERT HOWE <arehow@-----.net>
Subj: Re: wind instruments and circus tricks
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 22:44:23 -0400
Agrenci's defense of Neidich, circle breathing in the oboe Romances, is
very well stated and I second it.
TO answer his query, Berlioz writing circa 1850 describes an Asian
shawmist at a Pris exhibition, circular breathing an A, "until we all
had our fill of that note" or something to that effedct. This implies
that the technique was not part of the Western bag-of-tricks. See
Joseph Marx's book of essays (The Writings of Josef Marx, pub. 1980ish
by McGinnis and Marx) for a fuller description and exact quote.
If we call this a circus trick, what do we make of flutter tongueing,
vibrato, triple tonguing, use of notes above high G, multiphonics, and
for that matter, trilling? Where does technique end and show-off begin?
I think we all should exploit every possible expressive device and not
castigate others who do things that we can't or won't. And, by the way,
I have never learned to circle breathe, for as a clarinettist I have no
need to do so (as I play only in summer bands) and as an oboist I have
yet to encounter a phrase in real music that I couldn't handle in the
The Romanzen, BTW, were written for oboe. Period. THey were published
with alternate parts for clarinet or fiddle to increase sales. See the
Urtext edition which one of the German houses published in the mid 80s
for a full discussion of this, apparently the premiere was on fiddle and
they weren't done on oboe until after Schumann's death. I forget the
details and it is too late to go downstairs and check.
> Now for the real question. Dan brings up an interesting topic. When was
> circular breathing developed, and how appropriate is its use in various
> musical styles? It is my belief that this is by no means a new technique (the
> same for double tounging.) In some cultures (Asia?) I believe it has been
> around for centuries. I really have no idea when it was introduced to Western
> music, or to clarinet playing. Does anyone know for sure?
> BTW, I have so far been too lazy to perfect that "circus trick", circular
> Andy Grenci