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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000953.txt from 2000/09

From: "Gene Nibbelin" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Silly things with Clarinets
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 16:29:34 -0400

Which once again proves the corny old saw: "There are composers and

SUCH ARROGANCE !!! What instrument does this "composer" play - a kazoo?
Sounds like she probably plays piano. Well, many of us on the list have
studied piano at one time or another and many of us probably have at least a
rudimentary knowledge of harmony and counterpoint. And we have all seen a
piano, so we know the range of notes available. Thus, if she practices
hard, she should be able to play ANYTHING that any one of us could compose.

I know that I could compose a lot of unplayable music for piano (of which I
have some knowledge) and could uncork some really, really unplayable "noise"
for instruments of which I have little knowledge. This is obviously the
situation with your lady "composer".

In addition, any composer who wants to have his or her compositions played
more than once (if that) must respect and have considerable knowledge of the
instruments for which the music is being written.

Gene N.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin Fay (LCA) []
Subject: [kl] Silly things with Clarinets

Tony Wakefield asked:
<<<I would think that there have been thousands upon thousands of occasions
when players have had to explain to a composer that a certain passage is in
fact impossible to play. . . . I wonder has anyone come across some hugely
"ridiculous" piece of writing, including having to use strange gadgets, and
would they be prepared to share this with the list. Without mentioning
names, what were the circumstances, and what was the outcome?>>>
That would be me.
My orchestra plays a great deal of new music (about a third of the music
programmed is a world premier). Over the years, we've played some really
good stuff. Other stuff, well, not so good.
I've been asked to do some interesting things, like
-- rub a tone out of a tuned champagne glass. (Unfortunately, no
-- remove the mouthpiece, and buzz into the barrel as if a brass mouthpiece.
-- remove the mouthpiece, and play it sans clarinet.
-- click keys. (This composer complained that the key clicks on my clarinet
were not loud enough; could I please make it louder?)
-- same composer-asked me to strike the bell of my clarinet with a
drumstick. (I did not.)

In one piece, the clarinet solo was just unplayable; it was obviously
composed by striking two index fingers at random at a keyboard. Random
hemi-demi-semiquavers, multiple registers, all staccato. The composer must
have been jilted by a clarinet player, because it was just painful to try
and play. I brought it to the attention of the composer (a local university
professor), pointing out that clarinets "just can't do that," hoping that
she would be willing to rewrite the thing in a playable fashion. Her
response was that I should practice-her little book stated that clarinets
could play within this range, and she couldn't see why these notes would be
so hard.
. . . I bet it sounded great on her computer.
We have tried to get the conductor to adopt a policy of playing only works
by dead composers. They don't have to be dead very long, mind you, just
dead enough not to skulk around in rehearsal snorting at the musicians.
When programmed works by live ones, we've offered to enforce the policy,

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