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 piercing high notes
Author: sömeone 
Date:   2003-03-25 09:26

how do i eliminate the piercing feeling of the clarinet's altissimo range?
and what can i do to maky my tone rounder?

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 Re: piercing high notes
Author: Rick Williams 
Date:   2003-03-25 10:52

I'm sure others will have better answers, but here are a few thoughts.

I was tackling two works around the same time. Mozart's k622 and Poulenc, both of which venture into the altissimo and at times indicating p or pp during those phrases. In Mozart particularly I felt as though every time I was blasting out in the altissimo. My teacher pointed out that what we hear behind the instrument isn't always what is heard by an audiance and that what sounded bad to me, was in fact acceptable.

That said I've found that reed strength and resistance plays a significant role when playing in the C3-G...+ range. I was perfectly happy dashing around the clarion with fairly soft reeds, but I couldn't support altissimo, so I began experimenting with stiffer reeds. Breathing from the gut and really controlling the velocity of air is also important. Changing the position of your tongue can create subtle differences in tone as can embrochure. An opening note on high G piano was what demonstrated to me those issues in embrochure that I needed to address to support the note and begin it cleanly.

I hope this makes some sense.


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 Re: piercing high notes
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2003-03-25 13:49

sömeone -

Here's a link to an exercise I've posted several times. It works for me.


Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: piercing high notes
Author: sfalexi 
Date:   2003-03-25 15:49

I think the links only seem to work when they are preceeded by "www" rather than "test" cause I just tried it too and it didn't work for me either.

BTW, never got the chance to thank you for this. I am working on the mozart concerto as well (K622) and that's what I needed it for. A few runs have to be "echoed" in a p sound after being played ƒ or mƒ. One thing I'd like to add that helped me was this.

As I was practicing the higher notes, I would hold my tongue gently against the reed, begin to breathe through the instrument giving it the breath support it needs for that note, and then gently "release" the reed allowing the note to sound. This taught me that the reed doesn't need to be "attacked" with the tongue for the note to sound, but it's the "release" of the tongue which allows the reed to vibrate.

This has helped me to lesson the accent that you get when you quickly tongue the higher notes and has made it much easier to play the clarion and altissimo registers smoother be more assured that it'll come out the dynamic that I want. It also helped me to play staccato better and articulate a bit better. Maybe it's all in my head, but when I think of a note differently (such as "releasing" the reed instead of "hitting" the reed) it helped my playing.

Good luck with your pieces. I'm still working on mine so I can show the music department at the end of the semester that the lessons have been paying off and hopefully get a good grade.


US Army Japan Band

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 Re: piercing high notes
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2003-03-25 16:10

Generally ;the extreme alltissimo upper range of the clarinet is a tough beast at best. You may find however, that trying to control the sound too much will have the negative effect of lowering the pitch and driving flute and pitch sensitive players over the edge!....Be sensitive to tuning and fingering considerations on your particular clarinet--all clarinets are not the same!!!

one exerice is to practice returning scales say in F Major starting on high C to third line F and then going down to high D and going to high G (four lines above staff) legato....if the transitions are not good and the sound bumpy then try by playing very slowly in quarters at mp and then crecendoing to the top note and come downward..

I have also found the Rovner Dark ligature tends to soften the harshness of these sounds and gives a bit of flexibility to the dynamics in this register....you may then want to practice the excercise outline at the back of the Keith Stein where he goes into the extreme register via removal of the first finger left hand...there is exellent advice here and I can only say he says it far more eloquently than I ever could.....

Another factor is work with a pitch machine on occassion just to see where and how far then tone can be controlled on your clarinet....surorisingly you begine to find that there is alot of leeway!!! Serious students should never neglect tuning the Alltissimo high F# by adding the third finger RH (alternate low B natural) as a venting consideration in slow music. On held notes there is quite alot of variants in fingerings for all the high notes...get familiar with you clarinets particular voicing and comfort and quality of sound will improve drastically...also note the A clarinet tunes alot different from the Bb on many fingerings so for orchestral players its important to be mindful of these problems ....as for the high G there are piles of good fingerings....then commence practicing the solo in the third movement of Beethoven 8 in order establish fliexibility and tonal command....the final High G should float beautifully out there with ease!!!

Good Luck!

David Dow

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 Re: piercing high notes
Author: lemilie 
Date:   2003-03-27 21:12

the only thing that I can add to the great advice above is to give you a hint that my clarinet teacher gave me. say the word "key" and remember that tongue position. i was having trouble with the altissimo range as well, and this helped me focus my air a lot better, making me better able to play p notes even that high.

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 Re: piercing high notes
Author: Heidi 
Date:   2003-03-28 15:22

I have had trouble with this as well...I think alot of it has to do with where I'm voicing the note in my throat. Try "thinking" the note is lower. Alot of times, mine squeak out because I'm trying too hard and have in fact voiced them too high in my throat giving either the next partial or a squealy sound. If you mentally bring it down, it could work. I also really liked what Alexi said about "bringing it out of the reed." This also works when some one plays a mallet instrument...instead of beating the crap out of it, lift the note out of it with the mallet...the same goes for the tongue.

Hope that helps!

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