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 dark vs. dull
Author: Nakata 
Date:   1999-09-08 04:34

if a sound is too dark, do we call it "dull"?
dark is neutral, but dull is negative in
meaning. So my question is what is the line
that determine whether a sound is called dark or
dull? some American player claimed they have a nice
dark sound, their sound is totally unacceptable in my ear
, I just think a lot of teacher in N.America has
an aweful dull sound that is totally lack of color
and emphasize the "darkness" they favour. so what
is the bottom line of "darkness" that American player
is looking for? did they go too far? or I need
to change my sound concept in order to be accepted
by most N.American teachers?


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 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: Katherine Pincock 
Date:   1999-09-08 13:59

There are several different concepts of sound for clarinet tone, and depending on which school you took lessons in, other sounds will seem very different. I'm assuming that you may have studied in one of the European traditions, in which the tone is lighter, brighter, and very liquid. This means that, yes, to you the North American sound will seem very dull and flat. I was brought up in the North American tradition, which has the dark sound you mentioned, and to me, this European sound seems too harsh and thin. (This is an instant reaction only; by listening to may recordings of this sound, I've attuned my ear to it, so I no longer automatically view the sound this way.) North American teachers do still emphasize the need to change tone colour, but it's different from the European style, so it may be very difficult for you to hear it. It's a difference of opinion that has lasted a long time, and there are good and bad point about both traditions, of course.
As for your question about whether you would need to change your tone to study with North American teachers, that does depend on the teacher, but in many cases, the answer is yes. Unfortunately, North American ears are very tuned to the dark sound, and untutored listeners, and even some educated listeners, will view a brighter sound like yours as evidence of bad playing. This is most definitely not true, but it can be a real obstacle. If you are considering studying in North America, I'd suggest contacting the teachers you're considering to ask them their opinions. After all, you've no doubt spent years developing the tone you have now, and can be justifiably proud of your sound; there's no reason to change it all over unless necessary. I hope this helps.

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 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   1999-09-09 01:11

I think Japanese like moderate tonality,European their own way, and American take German or French style or international.

Even in Japan, where clarinet came mainly from Europe,there are two trends,German and French. Kitazume,Honorable Chairman of Japan Clarinet Association,uses Wuritzers with small bore and darker tone and provably with angled wall mouthpiece. Surely,this is optimal to play Brahms or Schuman,but not for Debussy or Rossini. However,Japanese people do not like too much darkness of tone. Typical examples are dark-toned clarinets such as Festival, Elite, and Recital almost dissappeared from professional orchestras. Buffet started to sell R-13s recently in Japan(they sold only RC or RC-Prestige), but I am afraid they may dissapear in the long run.

Japanese symphonic orchestras do not seem to have decided which tonality to take in mind. In other words,Jack-of-all-the-trade-master-of-none kind orchestras.

However,American Symphonic Orchestras seem to know what they would like to become. George Szell Cleveland wanted German definitely. Pitzberg also. Boston, Philadelphia, NY, international. I guess this comes from the fact that although a melting pot there are certain people-German, English, or others- started to dwell in certain parts of north America just after pilgrim fathers came around 1630's.

I do not think Harold Wright or Staley Drucker are dull. Charles Neidich seems in fact to try to reach something different: He went to USSR by scolarship. If Japanese orchestras try to take international tonality, Stanley Drucker clarinet,not too dark and not too mellow,may be a good reference.

I recently feel a little frustrated that clarinets tone are too much dependent on the bore size or taper design to make me change tone color. It may be better to revive old straight bore design again.

Reply To Message
 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: TASH 
Date:   1999-09-09 06:44

Hi, Hiroshi.

It seems to me a little odd to write in English from a Japanese to a Japanese…

You mentioned that Beffet Festival has dark tone.
I've played on the instrument for several years but I've never felt so.
Catalogue says that Festival is a successful model which obtained a bright tone from R-13 series and obtained a precise pitch from RC series. At least, it has a bright tone.

Buffet's official HP explains Festival as bellow:
Enjoyed by classical and jazz players alike, the Buffet Festival clarinet is an exceptional professional instrument. An offspring of the R-13 family of clarinets, this instrument is manufactured with premium quality Grenadilla wood which produces a rich, powerful sound.

Selmer Recital has a darker tone, I quite agree with you.
When I played on Recital's barrel on Selmer 10S2star, the tone was dramatically changed. Yes, I could get darker and richer sound.

Each instrument has its own character like "dark" or "bright". But, tone should be finally characterized by player himself/herself, I believe. Tone is the person's character itself. Most important thing is to practice to be able to produce beautiful sound. Tool is not so important.

Reply To Message
 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: Nakata 
Date:   1999-09-09 08:07

I think mouthpiece/reed/ligature/barrel are more
critical to make the tone darker than the clarinet
body. Imagine you play a R-13 with the stock barrel,
a Vandoren B45 lyre mps and Vandoren V-12 #3 reed
on a metal ligature, no matter how hard you try
you tone is always on the bright side.
American use thicker reed on closer facing mps
and they usually use Chadash or Moening style
barrel to darken the sound. some of them even
put the Rovner fabric ligature to further dampen
the reed vibration to darken the sound.
I think the equipment make a lot of difference
a people with a bright sound is considered
as inferior player in N. American and I think
this is absolutely incorrect.
darker the tone, less resonant it is, less
colorful it is. I still don't understand
the beauty of very dark tone that most
American is enjoying. I don't like the
extreme bright sound either, however some
brightness in the tone will make the clarinet
sound much more colorful and this is very
important in solo. why American think the
"Ultimate" bright tone is most beautiful?
any comment?


Reply To Message
 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   1999-09-09 12:23

Nakata wrote:

I think the equipment make a lot of difference
a people with a bright sound is considered
as inferior player in N. American and I think
this is absolutely incorrect.
You answered your own question! You have an "absolute" which is not shared by all others, <b>exactly</b> your complaint about some N. American clarinetists!

Reply To Message
 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: William Fuller 
Date:   1999-09-09 14:29

My old college teacher always referred to the "dark" tone quality as "choclate velour." He stressed that dark should not be dull or dead, but alive and resonant. Try thinking of dark being purple rather than black. Personally, I like the brighter kinds of sounds. Hope this is helpful in some way.

Reply To Message
 RE: dark vs. dull
Author: Daniel 
Date:   1999-09-09 21:11

Hiroshi wrote:
Typical examples are dark-toned clarinets such as Festival, Elite, and Recital almost dissappeared from professional orchestras. Buffet started to sell R-13s recently in Japan(they sold only RC or RC-Prestige), but I am afraid they may dissapear in the long run.

I personally find the Festival and Elite to have much brighter sound than the R-13. Every Elite i've played has been very stuffy, and every Festival i have played has been like blowing into nothing.

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