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 Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-18 23:54
Attachment:  Nine Clarinet Tips - Playing in Tune.doc (40k)

I have been collecting these tuning ideas for years and I thought I'd throw them out for comment.
Any errors, additions, missing ideas?



Post Edited (2018-09-18 23:56)

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Burt 
Date:   2018-09-19 00:30

Ken, this a fine document, and my comments should be treated as very minor.

If you're not the only player on a note, will the others make the adjustment to the tempered scale? If not, then I wouldn't either. For a minor key, the third has to be raised. Fourths and fifths are almost identical in both scales. Leading tones need to be raised in the tempered scale.

I cringe when my clarinet section tunes to concert Bb (or concert A, for that matter). Adjusting at the barrel (as they do) for these notes throws the throat tones way out. Given the choice, such as when I play with a pianist, I would tune using my G4, G5, G3, and G6.



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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-19 07:22

Well these tips seem a bit academic and may not take a lot of practical elements into consideration. For example if you're playing in a group that has played together for some time (years without much turnover), you'll know "Larry" will play a concert "D" a little low, so when you have a passage with "Larry," you just play the "D" a little low.


Also, I (not that this is necessarily a good thing) have a tendency to play at pitch with the predominant voice. So the clarinet section may be playing at a comfortable pitch together but if we are playing WITH the trumpet section which tends to live in a higher world, I play with the trumpets, clarinets be damned. I'm not proud of it, it just happens. That being said, I feel that it is important to match whomever has established pitch "in the moment," such as soloists, soli voices, or the loud obnoxious brass section.


The bottom line in ensemble playing is that if you're in tune and everybody else is sharp.........you're out of tune.


As for a tuning note, I like to teach using the open "G." That's because if your find a comfortable "middle" for that note, you can bob and weave both up and down from there for most of the rest of the horn.



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



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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2018-09-19 09:35

A few comments:

"Test left hand 12ths"
-Why not also test right hand 12ths?

"Tune to the player 'up the ladder'"
-In my wind octet we often get the best results if we all adjust our tuning to the bass note. But different contexts may requite different approaches. I'm not sure why tuning to the person above you should be a rule of thumb?

"One note which is a 3rd in a chord is a bit lower than if it is the root"
-This is only true for major thirds. Minor thirds need to be tuned higher.

"And the same note as a 5th in a chord, is a bit higher than if it is the root."
-"a bit higher" is really rather vague. Much more useful would be to know exactly how many cents higher or lower each interval should be tuned for pure intonation. Charts for this are readily available on the internet.

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: QuickStart Clarinet 
Date:   2018-09-19 16:28

This is definitely a good starting point for intonation. The part about more easily hearing flat pitches was interesting because I have certainly noticed that to be true, but have never seen it actually stated before.

The real impossible situation, which was hinted at by Paul Aviles, is what do you do when some people in the ensemble are playing at one pitch and others at a different pitch.
This is the most uncomfortable situation, I find, because no matter which way I adjust it still sounds wrong. When there is no group center of pitch everyone feels like they're always out of tune, and it is just horrible.

Josh Goo
QuickStart Clarinet Founder
www.quickstartclarinet.com

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-09-19 19:02

It would be interesting, as people react to this thread, to know if they play primarily in bands or orchestras. I think clarinet tuning issues are different for a band clarinetist playing in a section from those of any woodwind or brass player playing one on a part.

It's one of the reasons I don't enjoy playing in bands as much as I do playing orchestral music. Clarinets don't really have the pitch flexibility of string instruments, so clarinets in groups are much more difficult to keep in tune with each other, much less with the brass or even the flutes, who are also playing in sections with their own internal pitch issues.

Karl

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-19 19:16

Unfortunately it is the reality for most of us (unless you're in a professional orchestra or premiere concert band) that we have to play under less than the most desirable circumstance. My tack has always been to look at that as a challenge in which your task is to find the best tuning "in the moment" as possible. Everyone isn't playing all the time. Everyone doesn't have the melody at the same time. And there in lies the key (no pun intended). You find satisfaction in making the best music possible for any given moment.


In my twenty year career in the military band field I had seen a fair number of really fine players leave at the end of an enlistment due to the frustration of not having things always as good as you'd like. But that is not the point. Even in major symphony orchestras there are moments of less than perfection (and folks not even talking to each other for years at a time). So my suggestion to combat the frustration factor is to look at "less than perfect" as a game or a test in which you challenge yourself every moment to make it as good as possible.


Quite frankly, if the intonation issue is not addressed by the conductor, coping is the only defense.




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



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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-19 23:06

Since I started this thread I would like to thank all the posters. I have learned much from it.
To the advanced players who would already know this information, just jump to #9.
I hope it is helpful to anyone who did know these points.

And to Licorice,
>>"Test left hand 12ths"
>>-Why not also test right hand 12ths?
The shorter pipe tells more about overall pitch problems. If the left hand is perfect, move to the right hand 12ths. I left that out by accident.

>>"Tune to the player 'up the ladder'"
>>-In my wind octet we often get the best results if we all adjust our tuning to >>the bass note. But different contexts may requite different approaches. I'm >>not sure why tuning to the person above you should be a rule of thumb?
In your group 'bass' is up the ladder.

>>"And the same note as a 5th in a chord, is a bit higher than if it is the root."
>>-"a bit higher" is really rather vague. Much more useful would be to know >>exactly how many cents higher or lower each interval should be tuned for >>pure intonation. Charts for this are readily available on the internet.
I hope you keep your chart on the stand next to your music for reference.
I use my ear and 'a bit' is useful enough.

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-09-20 00:04

Clarinets are constantly changing pitch. Tuning a little sharp is good because most players have better down flex than up and sharp sounds less bad than flat. Always try to be in tune and notice if you are squeezing up or relaxing down. Adjust tuning to center this observation as your instrument warms or cools.

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2018-09-21 10:45

Ken- when I first learnt about how pure intervals differed from intervals tuned in equal temperament I got a synthesizer to practise with. The synthesizer held sustained notes while I experimented with tuning intervals above and below the sustained notes. (Nowadays there are apps for this kind of thing). 4ths and 5ths took very little adjustment (2 cents) but I was shocked at how much I had to adjust for pure 3rds (14 cents). I listened for beats and difference tones until my ear got used to hearing where those intervals should be placed. So I found the chart was a very useful guide in the beginning.

Many students aren‘t aware of where pure intervals need to be placed and have some vague idea that a third needs to be tuned “a bit” lower (basically as you wrote in your guidelines), but this is of course wrong because some thirds need to be tuned substantially higher. And “a bit” is an inadequate description for the variety of adjustments required.



Post Edited (2018-09-21 10:49)

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-09-21 12:31

I'm reminded of the old adage, "it's better to be sharp than out of tune".

Should one wish to practice tuning against a drone, this is a good website for that: http://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/

It's fun to open multiple tabs in a web browser and listen to the pure intervals and to then adjust chords to be actually in tune.

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 Re: Thoughts on Playing the Clarinet in Tune
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-21 17:43

Good information Liquorice, thanks.

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