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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001094.txt from 1999/01

Subj: Re: [kl] Rudeness and humility
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 22:52:03 -0500

I wrote:

>>The R-13; that's another matter. Whatever its' virtues, I am increasingly
>>convinced as I see improvements offered by those who are thoughtful,
>>knowledgeable and creative that to continue in the direction of the R-13,
>>acoustically speaking , is not the best thing for the clarinetists
>>freedom for music making on the clarinet.

Roger then responded:
>Then do you feel it is a poor clarinet? That was the word in your last
>post that I responded to that I wanted you to clarify. Was the word "poor"
>inclusive of the R-13 - of course - I am asking for your opinion. I think
>the list would place great value on hearing your opinion - not just using
>other words. If the word "poor" did not apply, then I would (not hastily)
>assert that you did respond out of the blue without thinking - that's why I
>asked the question - before saying so. However, if you feel it is a "poor"
>clarinet, then you were perfectly reasonable in your response - if not
>slightly ambigous.

I'm not so sure that I understand exactly what you mean by all you
have said above, but in any case, the last thing I want to do is by
You ask if I think the R-13 is a poor clarinet. I can't only respond by
asking you "poor in respect to what?"
Compared to several other instruments I have played they are both
difficult to control and present color and pitch stability problems in
extremes of pitch and/or dynamics. They are therefore physically much
more work to play than several other models I can think of and make
various passages, which I can play with relative ease and great security
on other clarinets, difficult and tenuous.
In addition, because the bore design does not "hold" the envelop of
the sound well the R-13 causes me to use much more embouchure control just
to keep the shape of the sound from shattering. I find I can play other
clarinets, use much less embouchure control and have the clarinet produce a
lovely shape and stable pitch throughout the full pitch and dynamic range.
Such qualities, for me, equal freedom and security, and increase my
endurance considerably. As a double-lip player I am very grateful for
that. Comparitively, the R-13 wears me out controlling its' unevenness.
I find single-lip players are not as sensitive to this issue, and
many are hardly aware of how much they are biting, nor are they aware of
what a negative effect it has on every aspect of their music making; they
have not figured out how to control the sound without biting, most don't
really know what biting is, and the ubiquitous presence of the R-13 does
not contribute to remedy this matter.
I digress.
But what I mean to say, is that IF security, ease, depedability,
evenness and consistency of tonal shape in an instrument are important to
you as a musician then the R-13 can be problematic; Objectively, there are
several instruments as a genre which do all these things better. But if
these elements are ancillary to your sensibility and tastes this will
matter little.
Sound IS important; being heard is important; but the harshness of
some tone colors I have heard have made me wish that the clarinet didn't
have so much "projection"........In other words, I'd don't like colors that
hurt my ears.
Is the R-13 poor? It all depends upon what you value both as a
clarinetist and a musician. To me, personally, it is virtually useless;
with no exaggeration I can honestly say at this point in my life, if the
R-13 were all there was to play on I would just work on playing more Jazz
on the key board and writing a song now and then; I am sick of working to
make music. I would like a little joy, freedom and fun from my experience
of playing. The R-13, whatever else I may have been able to do in my
teaching/playing years, was always work to play and control. I find, in
speaking with many, many other clarinetists, that my experience was and is
not an isolated one.
Give a visiting concert pianist to Bloomington a piano to play on
that is as uneven in response and color as most R-13's and he will refuse
to go on stage. Great artists demand great instruments which put minimal
demands on being played, so they can concentrate on the REAL challenge;
communicating and interpreting the meaning of the music.
In my opinion, we as clarinetists, are cheating ourselves if we
demand and expect less than a great pianist..............just my opinion of
Having said that, I restate your question: Is the R-13 poor?
Each player needs to answer that question for himself after he or
she has weighed all that an instrument has to offer in all its' aspects.
My article, How to Select a Clarinet, trys to recommend various methods of
discovering what an instrument has to offer, not just in respect of tone,
but tuning, stability in tuning, stability in color and shape, and the
subtle aspects of response and so on.
My advise to any one is examine instruments as thoroughly as you
can, bring all your knowledge to bear upon it. If you lack knowledge, for
heaven's sake, get it!..........devise tests of your own if you don't like
mine; (if you find better ones share them with me, please!); how ever you
do it, get hard information, weigh it all in the light of what you value
and what you need; in that way you'll be more confident in what you have
chosen and happier with the result ; and this can't help but have a
positive effect in the final "finished" product of your performance.
Make sense?
I hope this in some way is an appropriate response to your question.
You, Roger, have not offended me in the least, and I appreciate your
responses and our exchanges. I don't mind in the least some one
disagreeing with me; that, to me, is of secondary interest. What I do mind
is not being given reasons for their disagreement that I can consider, in
the hope of perfecting my own thinking and understanding.

>"if I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me,
>this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very
>best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until
>the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't
>amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, 10 angels swearing I
>was right would make no difference."
> Abraham Lincoln

Just an aphoristic echo and distillation of the above:

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