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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000071.txt from 2001/04

Subj: Re: [kl] RE: vibrato
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 05:30:18 -0400

At 03:21 PM 4/4/01 -0500, you wrote:
>In the standard clarinet repertoire, I usually prefer to hear the
>instument played without vibrato, and I think my reasoning would be that I
>simply like the sound of the clarinet better without vibrato. No doubt
>that is to a large degree a matter of conditioning - that's the way the
>clarinet usually sounded when I first heard the instrument played.

Stan Stanford, of Portland State University, released a CD of clarinet
performances entitled, The Acoustic Era. The interesting thing about these
recordings is that they were recorded between 1898 and 1918. Another
interesting tidbit - not one clarinetist from the disc used vibrato. Sure
- there was wow and flutter - (you could hear it in the piano, the band
instruments, etc.) - but no vibrato. In some of the tracks it was
difficult to tell - luckily, as with William Tuson the 1904 recordings -
different tracks used the same performer and were more clear and had less
wow and flutter than other tracks - and it could be determined that there
was no vibrato.

Of course, the only major works played were the 1911 and 1913 recording of
von Weber's Concertino and Polonaise with Charles Draper and George Griesez
respectively playing solo parts. And, it is not really representative of
orchestral players - just band musicians. Therefore, because of the lack
of samples, it cannot be determined if vibrato on the clarinet was used
frequently during that time - based on this CD alone.

>If the player chooses to use "intensity alteration" vibrato, there will be
>periodic changes in the degree of intensity of the air supply to the
>instrument...........If on the other hand the player uses "pitch
>alteration" vibrato, there will be changes in the embouchure to
>periodically raise and/or lower the pitch.

Interesting discussion of definitions of both intensity and pitch
vibrato. Both based on the physics of how the vibrato is implemented -
neither really discussing the function of the vibrato. When I use the word
intensity vibrato - I am describing the use of the vibrato (for me -
originating from embouchure/jaw, etc.) - a quick, fast vibrato (not wide)
that is used in moments of intensity.....or for adding intensity to the
overall effect.......both emotional and dynamic moments.

>So, I am suggesting that there may be a physical reason why some might
>prefer the tone of the clarinet without vibrato, even if the listener may
>not be aware of all the physical attributes of the sound.

A pretty well-reasoned out thought - and one that is not often
discussed. Really - the biggest problem is that most clarinetists vibrate
via the second way you described - through embouchure/jaw - (Scott Wright
at University of Green Bay-Wisconsin did his doctoral paper on this
subject) - but some use a wide, heavy vibrato, and others use a faster,
less noticeable vibrato. The latter is my preference........but again -
that is a preference that has been developed over time by hearing players
do it well and hearing the quality of intensity that comes from its use -
which supports your idea of how we have been conditioned.

Best wishes,
Roger Garrett

Roger Garrett
Clarinet Professor
Director, Symphonic Winds
Advisor, Recording Services
Illinois Wesleyan University
School of Music
Bloomington, IL 61702-2900
(309) 556-3268

"A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes
Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825)

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