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 Throat and Tone Color
Author: Matt S 
Date:   2001-04-16 01:42

Vick Shull, a guy in FL, does alot of work for me, Im only 14, and he was givin me a few tips... He said not to sing the note when i play them like not to change the throat every time I play a note and he said that the throat shape changes the color of the tone. Can anybody tell me what shapes to make with the throat to get the best tone quality. I would like a nice full dark tone with much color. Thank ya soo much in advance

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Fred 
Date:   2001-04-16 13:31

I'll take a shot at this, though others on the board probably have more experience at it. First of all, practice long tones starting on low E going from very soft to very loud and hold the very loud as long as you can before coming back down soft again. Maintain a good embouchure - no fair puffing your cheeks. You will find that about all your throat can do at fff is open up and stay out of the way! You will also be building up breath support which is ESSENTIAL for the kind of tone you want. It would also be helpful to do this in front of a tuner. You will begin to learn how volume affects intonation, as well as the characteristics of your own instrument setup.

One thing more - I was insulted when my first professional teacher put me on long tones. I was first chair with no competition in sight . . . surely I should have been working on great music . . . or at least etudes! Nope, it was long tone exercises out of beginner books. He was right. Thanks, Mr. Seiler . . . wherever you are.

Good Luck!

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: William 
Date:   2001-04-16 13:41

Arch your tongue in the back of your throat like you are imitating a cat's hiss. This will help focus the air stream and improve your tone. Also, if you use a traditional embouchure (top teeth on mp), try using more pressure from your top lip and ease off the "tooth only" bite. If you care to try, "double lip" embouchure techniue is probably the best instant tone fix you can make. To help do "double lip" form your lips around the mp without using your teeth on top of the beak and blow like you are pushing a lot of air throgh a soda straw. Hope this helps a bit. Come back and let us know how you are doing or if you have more questions. Good clarineting!!!!!!!

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Chris Ondaatje 
Date:   2001-04-16 15:31

I will probably be a bit controversial. The "throat" comment that most teachers and players use is probably at best regarded as a metaphor or an image. When talking about the throat most people are probably meaning the shape of the oral cavity. William had some good advice about notes in the upper register. The position of the back of the tongue is crucial for optimum tone production. As is air support and correct use of the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. The throat (if we literally mean throat as far as I can tell does not move). This comment will put me at odds with some of the best teachers and performers in the world...(Please don't bother writting to tell me I am wrong). If you have an analytical mind look up "Oral tract fluctuations in clarinet and saxophone performance: an accoustical analysis/ by Peter G.Clinch" Melbourne 1980. If you can't be bothered doing this experimenting with long notes is just as good. Try doing harmonics -without the speaker key to get the best oral cavity position. Then add the key. Try deep abdominal breathing. Experiment with mouthpiece and reed combinations. The emboucure thing I regard as a bit of a red herring. If it looks and feels ok it probably is ok. I don't understand the fascination with the double emboucure. I have read some suprising literature that says the emboucure doesn't alter the pitch...ie a tigher emboucure doesn't mean higher pitch. I can't quote the thesis unfortunately.
Clarinets that taper at a greater rate in the bore may help with a darker tone also.
Regards Chris.

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: joevacc 
Date:   2001-04-16 16:50

I agree with what you are saying Chris, as fare as your statement, "The throat (if we literally mean throat as far as I can tell does not move)." is quite correct as far as I know but must not move form a "open" position. This is the only way it has ever been explained to me. If you try to close your throat while you are playing you will most certainly hear the deference! I am talking from experience as this was a problem I dealt with in the beginning.

Best Regards To All,

jv

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   2001-04-16 18:07

Matt -

Good advice in this thread. I took a couple of lessons from Peter Clinch several years ago, and he really knew his stuff.

It's very easy to get into the habit of "mirroring" your articulation by moving your jaw or moving your larynx up and down. I had to break myself of the habit of silently singing as I played -- that is, varying the tension of my vocal cords, without vocalizing.

Every bit of extra motion slows you down. A good way to find out what you're doing is to watch yourself in a mirror. There should be no visible movement of your jaw or throat when you tongue.

Close your eyes, play a fortissimo low E and let someone pull the instrument out of your mouth without warning. Don't resist the pull, and don't stop blowing. Try the same thing on a middle B. If you're creating resistance by partly closing your vocal cords, this is adding tension to your playing and preventing you from getting a free sound.

Here's what I did. I put an extra soft reed on my mouthpiece. Then, I made an embouchure without the clarinet in my mouth and blew as if I were playing, making sure my throat was open. Then I opened my mouth and supported the mouthpiece entirely with my lips. Of course, my vocal cords immediately closed, as I found when I pulled the clarinet out of my mouth. I had to do it many, many times before I broke the connection between playing clarinet and tensing my vocal cords.

Keep at it until the new feeling becomes natural. You have to get used to not feeling that resistance, but instead feeling the pressure of the air against the reed, with nothing in between.

It's not easy, but once you get the feel, it will make a big improvement in your sound.

Then you can start experimenting on different throat positions. These make a difference only when you get rid of any barrier between your breath and the sound.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Francesca 
Date:   2001-04-16 21:59

I've had teachers tell me to pretend like I'm saying "ah" while playing. This seems to more adjust tongue position, but it does help with breath support, tone, and tonguing when I remember to use this technique.

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   2001-04-17 06:15

I have a training book written by Charles Neidich and Oshima(his ex-student).
Unfortunately, it is written only by Japanese and published only in Japan.
I will try to translate its part related to tongue position.

<Tongue position in oral cavity>
'Tongue position' is very much relate to 'breath support'. This tongue position, although not seriously taken into account by many players, plays a roll as the bridge so to speak when air is blown into the clarinet. This is very important and the reader should learn how to do with tongue position.

When told 'Open your throat', many players take back tongue back toward throat like yawning. You cannot expect good performance by this tongue position.
This is how you should:
At first shut your mouth. Where do you feel your tongue is located?
You will recognize the tongue is located never backward. Ascertain the
tongue support parts are in contact with back teeths at both sides.
You should keep these parts of tongue near them when you
play clarinet.

Next. Try to pronounce 'Heeee' or 'Hyuuuu'. You will recognize the tongue
tip is located low and its back part is high i.e. looks like an arc.
This is the basic tongue position when you play clarinet.

Next. The tongue position is not always the same. Basically, if you play
higher notes, the back part of tongue should be positioned higher and
forward. This is improtant and you should memorize this. However, keep
in mind your tongue tip should not be positioned high. Tongue should be
shaped arc always.

These things are very important to play clarinet in better tone, in better
intonation, and in better technique. You should find through exercise
with what tongue positions you can get the best tones listening to
your own tones and lean them 'by body'.

<Lower teeth position>
Figure

Reed tip
---------------
| |
|---------------| 9th harmonics
|---------------|1st harmonics
|---------------|7th harmonics
|---------------|3rd harmonics
|---------------|5th harmonics
| |
| |
Reed sotck
This figure indicates where are to locate your lower teeth.

Let's exercise.
(a) Play D(1st or primary harmocics) below the stuff and keeping the lower teeth position try to emit A above the stuff(3rd harmonics). You will recognize the queer sound 'boooo' with A. That is lower harmonics. Then while still inhaling, try to change lower teeth down(see Figure) just like opening your mouth slightly. You will find a place only A comes out beautifully. That is the correct position of lower teeth on the reed for 3rd harmonics. Of course it is necessary to keep tongue arc shape. In the same way, let's try to play from D-flat below the stuff to A-flat above the stuff.
(b)These A or A-flat above the stuff are very unstable and difficult. You should get a knuck how to move your lower teeth.

I translated the second part since it is necessary to recognize both lower teeth position(changed by jaw movement) and tongue position at the same time.

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Rene 
Date:   2001-04-17 20:39

I think that nobody will ever convince me that the mouth cavity is essential for the sound, or the vowels you try to from (yes - I tried). Artie Shaw once said in an Interview that the mouth must be close and narrow to get a good tone. Who am I to disagree?

To say the truth, I can see that opening my mouth cavity (or throat if you like) allows me to breath in more freely, to operate the tongue more effectively, to relax more and to put more mp in. Also I am less likely to put too much pressure on the reed and struggle the sound. That's all, and it is probably enough. But I cannot get an effect on the sound itself, unless I am really singing into the clarinet, which is another story.

All I want is to learn to do the necessary things, but for the right reasons.

Striving for more understanding,

Rene

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 RE: Throat and Tone Color
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   2001-04-17 22:00

Rene -

Please tell us the story.

Ken Shaw

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