Author: Ken Shaw
Date: 1999-07-27 18:50
I wonder if anyone can help me, my orchestra is playing Shostakovich 5th Symphony, and I am playing Eb clarinet in it. It's a brilliant part, with some really cool solos, but the instrument that i am using is in bad condition, and very out of tune (its not mine!). This is alright most of the time, as i can lip it up or down, but is a real problem in the exposed bit of the first movement (if you know it), which is octave leaps on E and then F# between the top 2 registers. Has anyone got any suggestion on how to make a top E sharper and a top F# flatter?
(i'm talking quite seriously out of tune here!)
And there isn't any time to have it overhauled, as we are rehearsing everyday until Saturday, and on Sunday we leave for a 2 week tour to Argentina.
The horn is a Noblet Artist if this is at all relevant.
With thanks in advance to all you knowledgable people!!!
Funny, the high E is often sharp and the high F# is almost always flat on the effer. It may be that a simple adjustment of key height could improve matters, though with high E and F#, the critical pad would be the one operated by the right hand rings, and it can't be both higher and lower at the same time.
To raise the high E, make sure you're opening the Ab/Eb "resonance" key with your right little finger. If you have time, you can raise the pitch quite a bit by opening the "sliver" key between the right middle and ring fingers. If that makes it too sharp, leave the resonance key closed. You can also raise the pitch by taking your left index finger all the way off the hole, rather than half-holing.
Try the alternate high E fingering, with all your left hand fingers down and the throat Ab key opened with your knuckle. That is also a very secure fingering that never squeaks, though the intonation is often off and the tone quality doesn't match the other notes particularly well.
To bring the high F# down, be sure you only half open the left index finger hole. Try closing the register key. You don't have to worry about dropping into the low register, since the left index finger hole acts as its own register key.
The "long" F# is usually in tune. This is the same as the "long" F (thumb, register key, 3 left hand fingers, 3 right hand fingers plus the C#/G# key with the left little finger), with the addition of the right little finger on the Ab/Eb key.
Where there is a particular exposed note that is out of tune, a perfectly honorable way of playing it is to make a temporary adjustment. In your case, to bring the high F# down, get some black electrician's tape and put it on so it covers maybe 15% of the left ring finger hole. If that doesn't throw other notes off too much, you can have a repair technician make it permanent by putting some beeswax in the hole.