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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000222.txt from 2007/12

From: Jonathan Cohler <>
Subj: [kl] Re: Legato Finger Motion
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 21:47:59 -0500

I agree with Margaret, but would qualify it a bit further.

A good legato from one note to the next results when you have the following:

(1) No space between the notes
(2) Equal loudness on the two notes
(3) Equal tone color (or as close to that as you can get)
(4) No extraneous noises at the beginning of the connected note

Because the natural resistance (or impedance) of the instrument
changes from fingering to fingering, and because the loudness is a
function of both amplitude and frequency, it is necessary to change
the air pressure precisely when you change the fingering so that the
output sound is of constant loudness.

So, for example, if you are going from a long fingering (high
impedance) to a short fingering (low impedance), you will have to
lessen the air pressure at the same moment that you lift your
fingers. Otherwise the upper note will pop out. Constant air
pressure (support) is one of the great myths of clarinet playing.

When playing scalar passages the impedance doesn't change
dramatically from one note to the next (except at harmonic breaks),
so you don't have to think about a dramatic air pressure change, but
when making large skips this is absolutely essential.

The finger placement issue is largely irrelevant, unless you are
slapping them so hard that they make significant noise (which would
fall under the prohibition in number (4) above).

What is critical, however, to maintain (1) above is that the fingers
be perfectly coordinated to open/close the holes simultaneously and
at precisely the same time that the air pressure is modified.

To keep the tone color as close as possible, you use changes in the
shape of the oral cavity and appropriate choice of fingerings.

That's about it....

Happy New Year!!


At 5:56 PM -0800 12/31/07, Margaret Thornhill wrote:
>This subject comes round about once a year--last year, sometime,
>Tony Pay and I pounded on this at length.
>With due respect to Mr. Hasty, Mr. Marcellus, Tony and all the other
>great clarinetists who brought this up, the secret of a great (even
>a good) legato is all in the breath.
>A beautiful legato is achievable by any clarinetist who can make a
>beautiful tone AND also sustain that tone from note to note
>throughout his scale--pop or no pop, slow fingers or no fingers.
>Happy new year to all---

Jonathan Cohler
Artistic & General Director
International Woodwind Festival


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