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 Flat altissimo
Author: mikeyarbulu 
Date:   2010-06-18 19:15

Hello everyone! I've been working for months to get my altissimo higher in pitch, but seem to have hit a wall. Does anyone know any good exercises to raise the pitch? Or has anyone had any key work done to improve it?

My set up is: Selmer Recitals, M15, Spriggs Ligature, and 3.5+ or 4 56 Rue Lepics.

Thanks so much!

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2010-06-18 21:39

Maybe try a few barrels, The M15 bore and windows are a bit weird. Some notes pop out fine and others are flat. A good mouthpiece designer could ream out the bore of the mouthpiece to it's correct taper.

The barrels can also be off causing this issue and may need to be replaced an rebored.

You can also try a thick blanked reed such as the Vandoren V12's to help support the upper notes.

Are all of the notes flat or just a few? Can you describe your mouth position, such as playing with a single or double lip and are you biting.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-18 21:52

Yes, could be the barrel, could be the mouthpiece, could be the clarinet. Have someone else play it with their mouthpiece, if they play it in tune have them play it with your mouthpiece. That way you will determine if it's equipment or you. If it's you then you have to voice higher. Perhaps raising the back or front or both parts of you tongue and "sing" that register higher when you play just like if you were actually singing a very high note. Sort of like when you're going from a very high E to the high A. Good luck, ESP

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: mrn 
Date:   2010-06-18 22:58

Actually it's normal for the clarinet to go flat in the altissimo register. In order to play in tune up there you almost always have to make some kind of correction to the pitch, whether through voicing or fingerings or both. At least that's been my experience.

Do you have your RH pinky on the Ab/Eb key? If not, then try putting it down, and see if that helps.

If you have your RH pinky down and that doesn't help enough, try using the RH sliver key (sometimes called the "fork" key) instead, being careful not to press the rings down with it. Many of us who play Buffets have to use this trick on F's and above to get the pitch up--I know I do, and if you look on YouTube there's a video of Stanley Drucker (of the N.Y. Phil.) playing the Weber Concertino where he does, too (on the final F), so I think it's pretty common to have to do this, even among pro players playing on "tweaked to perfection" instruments.

If neither of those solve your problem and it's not possible or practical to get the pitch up with voicing, then I'd start looking at other things.

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2010-06-18 23:09

I would ask: how are your throat notes "E" and "F?" Same question for low "E" and low "F."

If your pitch is JUST making it in these areas as well, you may just not have enough "head room" to comfortably play well with others.

I have found in MANY cases the "A=440 Pitch 13 Series" to be on the low side to begin with. As a close alternative I would humbly suggest a 5RV Lyre in an NON 13 Series bore.

Of course as Ed suggests you can correct some of the issues of your present system by addressing the length of the barrel.

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

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2010-06-19 03:06

I must admit when I read your question I assumed you meant the high b and c above the staff but now I realize you're asking about the altissimo register, above those notes. I don't play the Recital series but I do play the Signature and several notes have the same problem, which I understand is common with this model. The way I overcome this problem is as follows. The high E is flat, I use the side key throat G# when ever I play the high E, the F above is also flat so I either do the same with the F or I use the fork, K, key in the RH when playing the high F. The F# is also flat, as it is with any clarinet I've ever played so I use either the Fork key here too in the RH but use one of the alternate side key fingerings when ever possible. I have them on my website in the fingering chart. The G and above I use fingerings that are not flat. There are many fingerings for the G on my chart as well. Sorry about my misunderstanding, I hope this helps. If you need any more help with this feel free to e-mail me directly. ESP

PS, it could still be that you're not voicing properly or your reed is too soft to get the proper support up there.


Post Edited (2010-06-19 03:10)

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2010-06-19 10:02

and use sharp fingerings. There is a variety of fingerings for each altissimo note, and they all tune differently for different people on different instruments. The altissimo notes are really just overblown clarion notes... the trouble is, they overblow progressively flatter as you get higher and therefore all sorts of odd fingerings have to be introduced to get them in tune.

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: William 
Date:   2010-06-19 14:45

Many years ago (early 1970's??), my Buffet R13 Bb started to play flat on E6, which I assume is the one you are referring to. On the advice of my old UW clarinet professor, I took my clarinet to "Mac" McGibbon in Milwaukee who, after listening to my description and taking some measurements, diagnosted the problem as shrinkage of the upper bore of my upper joint. He was, back in the 1960's, the "go to" expert on clarinet accoustics and was quite the character--very gruff and smoking an upside down pipe constantly, even when he worked. His solution was to take out a huge, hand auger and proceed to reem out the upper bore of my precious clarinet, while puffing away on his pipe. Sawdust fell to his work bench until he finally stopped and said, "here, try this, kid." I did and the E7 was perfectly back in tune and has remained until this very day. Although I only visited his shoppe in Milwaukee a couple of times, I'll never forget Mac, who was best known for his hand made bassoons.

Bottom line: my tuning problem in the altissimo was a result of upper joint bore shrinkage after only 5 o 6 years of playing the clarinet from new. Perhaps that is yours as well.......just a thought.

Post Edited (2010-06-19 17:32)

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2010-06-19 15:16

Hang on! I'm really confused about what this is about.

Ed mentioned high B and C - I don't see where the original poster was that specific. I assumed he meant altissimo to mean everything above 2-leger-line high C (C6).

Then William started writing about problems with E7, which, using the key (C4="middle" C) at the top of this window, is a note I don't even know how to play [E7]. I assumed Mikeyarbulu was talking about the notes starting with D (or C#)6 [D6].

And Bob suggested thick blank reeds. I thought Rue lepic (cited in OP's equipment list) _is_ a thick blank. The ones I have in my reed case aren't as thick as V12s, but they're considerably thicker that the traditional (blue box) Vandoren reeds I have.

Can we clarify all of this? Thanks to all.


Post Edited (2010-06-19 16:51)

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: William 
Date:   2010-06-19 17:35

Opps--I meant E6, not E7....sorry 'bout that. I also corrected my above post. I only learned to count to 4 in music school, so I have difficulty navigating above that level of math.

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2010-06-19 17:57

> His solution was to take out a huge, hand auger and proceed to reem out the upper bore ...

Epic! Man, I would have thought that a narrow bore would have sharpened things... shows me what I know. Anyone able to explain the physics of this?

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: mikeyarbulu 
Date:   2010-06-19 20:15

Thanks for everyone's responses! I'm talking specifically from Eb above the staff to high C.

My Eb is so low that I have to use my pinky C instead of pinky Eb to get the pitch up.

My F and F# are usually OK once I add my sliver key and my G is usually OK.

Anything above that, however, is extremely hard to lip up, even with additional keys. I'm using my pinky C# for G# and up and things are usually low.

Thanks again!

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: mrn 
Date:   2010-06-21 17:00

Bassie wrote:

Epic! Man, I would have thought that a narrow bore would have sharpened things... shows me what I know. Anyone able to explain the physics of this?

Actually, it depends on where you do the narrowing/widening. Stephen Fox has some interesting materials on his website where he discusses this.

I'm not an acoustics expert, but basically, as I understand it, if you narrow the bore, the effect it has is related to where the narrowing is in relation to the length of the standing wave in the bore. At a high pressure region of the wave, narrowing the bore sharpens the note, while at a low pressure region narrowing the bore flattens the note.

In the lowest register, the upper half of the instrument is high pressure, while the lower half is low pressure. Things get more complicated as you jump to higher registers, because you have more "nodes" in your standing wave and consequently, you have multiple high pressure regions and multiple low pressure regions.

There's also another effect that has to do with the diameters of tone holes, called the "end correction." Basically speaking, narrower tone holes act like longer lengths of tubing. You can read about all this in Arthur Benade's "Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics."

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 Re: Flat altissimo
Author: salzo 
Date:   2010-06-21 18:02

It could be your lower lip is too low on the reed. Try taking in less mouthpiece.

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