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 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: chewkhd 
Date:   2010-06-07 14:27

I have been playing clarinet for more than 10 years and possessed a decent nice clarinet tone colour. However, I feel that my high notes sounded "thin" in terms of shape. I wanted them to sound "thick" like how they sounded for the lower register especially for middle register G to high C.
Is it due to my tongue placement or usage of air flow? I have been using a "oooh" syllable all along to achieve a dark round sound.
Recently, I have chanced upon some video clips of Martin Frost's masterclasses and in his demonstrations, his high notes sounded "thick" and robust which is akin to the tone shape that I'm longing for.
Any advice or comments?

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2010-06-07 15:07

Play from the clarion into the altissimo register while standing on one foot. That forces you to tighten your abdominal muscles. That increases your support for the air column entering your mouthpiece.

If your tone "thickens" when you try that, then you need to increase your air support when sitting --or standing on both legs.

Bob Phillips

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-07 15:18

I never heard the term "Thick" used to describe a clarinet tone but I get it. In my opinion there is no one thing that will do that for you. It is probably a combination of several things starting with your equipment and how you play. Unless you're choking off the sound in your throat or your tongue is somehow blocking off the air to much I would suggest experimenting with some different mouthpieces and reeds. You could first try moving your tongue in different positions to see if that has any effect. My first guess is that it may be too high in the front making the air passage to small, but without actually seeing and hearing you it's difficult to tell. Many people say to have it close to the roof of your mouth and use good air support, which you should always use anyway, but that could create the effect you don't want. I advocate the back of the tongue up at or very near the molars and the front of the tongue only slightly high for that register but it's not for everyone. A lot also depends on the size of your tongue and oral cavity. There is no one answer for everyone because we're all built somewhat differently. Experiment. ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: srattle 
Date:   2010-06-07 16:30

I don't really need to add anything about your high notes, but I would be very interested to see these martin fröst masterclass clips. Where did you see them?

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: chewkhd 
Date:   2010-06-08 04:02

Thanks everyone for your comments!

The Martin Frost clips can be found here:

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Roger Aldridge 
Date:   2010-06-08 16:34


Aside from aspects of clarinet performance, something I've found helpful in having a darker and "thicker" (as you describe) clarinet sound is using a Kaspar-style mouthpiece and reeds with a thick-cut profile (ie, more "wood" in the heart). As icing on the cake, I'd also suggest seeing what a Vandoren Klassik string ligature does for you. However, as we know, equipment takes us only so far and the rest is up to us.

Good luck!



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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2010-06-09 06:55

I second the 'support' advice. Last night I had a five hour show rehearsal and by the end of that my high notes were sounding 'thin' like you describe, solely due to fatigue.

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2010-06-09 15:35

I take something quite different from the youtube clip. I hear no mention of support as we know it. He seems to indicate a relaxed body and blowing lots of air without a tight embouchure. Moving air seems to be the concept here without the constraint of tightening the abs or other techniques.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2010-06-09 17:38

>> having a darker and "thicker" (as you describe) clarinet sound <<

What about a brighter and thicker sound...?

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2010-06-09 17:40

"Constraint of tightening the abs"

And where does one get a swift concentrated stream of air?

Yes, with a completely full set of lungs you will obtain unsupported air at the outset but to continue the air (maximizing what you have) one needs to engage abdominal muscles................or hook up an external machine :-)

.....................Paul Aviles

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 Re: 'Thick' Clarinet Tone
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2010-06-09 23:24

Yes, you think a certain way. I believe he is advocating a free flow of air. Use the air and blow it through the instrument. Forget all your concepts of support or unsupport and just blow. Use the air rather than conserving it. Do you see something different is this video?

Freelance woodwind performer

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