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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000457.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Air flow
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 19:34:04 -0400

In trying to make this conversation more manageable please note that by
eliminating certain text I have either decided Tony and I really agree or
Tony has shown I am wrong. Which is which, is left up to the reader as an

At 11:31 PM 10/15/2004 +0100, Tony Pay wrote:
> > Remember, my overriding goal was to explain why Bonade's method of
> > staccato works so well and yet is so misunderstood.
>Perhaps I don't have a full characterisation of Bonade's method. All you
>told me was that he said you can move your fingers on 'early' without
>disadvantage, so that the clarinet tube is already prepared for the next
>moment the tongue releases the reed. But that's obvious.

Well, it really is obvious. But very few people do it. And by people, I
mean the overwhelming majority of clarinet players who are not
professionals. I will never criticize a professional for doing what's
necessary to get through the gig. But I'm not interested in teaching

You'll have to take my word that much of what you and I find obvious is a
big debate in the world of American music education. I have even had to
argue for the inclusion of scales. I hope to change this one day, but it
wont be easy.

>All I meant was, that you can get a 'hAaaa' attack by just blowing, and an
>'aAaa' attack by using support. If you want an 'Aaaa' attack, you may need
>to use the tongue, but that's just to stop the reed vibrating until the
>pressure reaches its maximum -- which it does very quickly.
>You need to understand how support works to see the truth of what I'm saying
>there, perhaps:

I have no doubt this method of articulation works for you (your many
recordings attest to this). I have doubt whether it is the easiest way to
do it. Remember, I'm lazy. But this is probably why you have recordings out
and I don't!

I'm sure you will be pleased to know it appears your ideas on support are
in step with the teachings of Joe Allard and Arnold Jacobs. I can now
enhance my NDQ by adding Tony Pay to the list!

>It's just that flutes don't have a reed, and therefore have to stop the
>airstream to stop the note. We don't have to do that, so all the metaphors

A few metaphors change, yes. The majority stay the same. Tonguing is one,
in my experience, that stays the same (I'll let you have the last word on
this one, I really tire of this particular debate).

>Yes. But the constraints on the tongue action required to stop the reed
>vibrating are essentially simple ones, compared with the ones required to
>produce an appropriate sound.

It is interesting, my training and my goal is really to make things as
simple as possible. And, yes, they really are simple. Tonguing correctly is
not difficult. Getting a characteristic sound is not difficult.

The hard part is getting people to stop doing all the unnatural stuff which
came to them because most people, if left to their own devices, rarely come
up with the simple solution to a problem (Tony obviously not being most
people). I have spent much more time teaching students what not to do (that
is, removing bad habits learned "naturally"), rather than what to do. What
comes "naturally" is not always what is most effective or efficient.

So yes, what to do is easy. Unlearning all the things *not* to do. A bit

>I don't agree the reed has to strike the mouthpiece, and I don't agree that
>there is a problem synchronising the air with the tongue. Rather, I begin
>the note as a diaphragm release, and clean up the attack if necessary.

Still seems overly complicated, but sure. The diaphragm (I presume you mean
the abdominal wall muscles) is a terribly inefficient, albeit effective,
way to control the release of a note.

I know there are many people who use different techniques of playing
depending on speed (I would submit that your above described method of
attack would not be effective at fast speeds, unless you have freakishly
fast abdominal muscles) and I'm not going to say they are wrong. I will
suggest they may be working harder than necessary, but we've already
established I am lazy.

>I'm buying, when we meet:-)



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