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 High notes to low notes
Author: Rob Maeda 
Date:   1999-08-04 01:16


I am a beginning clarinet student and am having problems with slurring high notes to low notes. Specifically, during today's practice, I was going from D (just below the top of the staff), to low A (by just releasing the register key). Unfortunately, the note never dropped. I tried to do the same thing with other notes, and some worked better than others. Still, I was having a hard time, many notes dropping with a strange transition. Is there a trick to going from high notes to low notes? I can do it if I tongue the notes, but not when I slur them. Also, going from low to high is fine (what my exercise was supposed to be, but that I deviated from).

Thanks a lot,


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 RE: High notes to low notes
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   1999-08-04 01:54

How about checking register key elevation? It should be about 1 mm. Some people say it should be even smaller. Ordinarily it is too much elevated and makes such a problem.It may not be your fault.Experiment can be done by inserting a thick tape beneath the contact point of the register key opposite from the cork.If then the problem solved,consult with a repair man. I would suggest the new cork should have a conical hole to disperse the air better as posted a few days ago relative to reparing.

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 RE: High notes to low notes
Author: Tim2 
Date:   1999-08-04 02:29

1. A firm embouchure is needed to control slurs over the break. Your embouchure's purpose is to direct the air through your clarinet. Your embouchure gets stronger as you practice your horn through time.

2. Think what is happening to your air flow when you go from low register A to higher register D. The change in intensity of your air flow through your clarinet should get stronger to make it up to the higher note. You are probably doing this. This is good.

What you need now is that same intensity (and firm embouchure) when you are playing the lower notes or going from higher to lower notes. The intensity is from support given to the air flowing through your clarinet by your stomach muscles. Your stomach muscles (some may say diaphragm) determines not only how much air goes through your horn but the intensity (f and p). You need this for a good tone.

These two things may help you out. You may also want to check your reed, that it is on straight. You want to be sure that your fingering is secure (covering the holes, changing fingering together). The coordination of fingering is a life long pursuit of most clarinetists.

Other will have good information here also. Check out "The Art of Clarinet Playing" here at Sneezy. It talks about supporting your air stream. There is really a great amount of information here for all clarinetist. Good luck to you.

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 RE: High notes to low notes
Author: Kevin Bowman 
Date:   1999-08-04 19:17


What you are attempting to do is quite difficult on most (if not all) reed instruments. I think you will find with a good embouchure and proper breath support, the problem only becomes more pronounced! The problem of slurring from high notes to lower notes (say, an octave or more away) is due, in part, to the harmonic structure of the instrument. The problem is most pronounced when transitioning from a higher note that is a harmonic of the lower note (say clarion E to chalemeau A). Without going into a lot of physics, let's just say that the reed rather remain vibrating at the higher (harmonic) frequency than "jump" down to the fundamental frequency.

So ... my advice ...
1) simply toungue downward intervalic leaps - very lightly if marked as slurred. Just brush the reed to get it to "kick in" to the lower frequency.
2)practice "voicing". Voicing is accomplished by adjusting the oral cavity. In general, form the vowel "E" for higher notes and "O" for lower notes. This is not entirely accurate because you always want to keep the back of your tongue high to focus the tone - but learning to voice well is a huge step toward getting those awkward intervals (both rising and falling).
3) Try temporarily releasing a bit of pressure on the reed as you transition to the lower note. I don't really recommend you stick with this idea because the tone will suffer momentarily. But it's good for the purposes of experimentation. Often, experimentation will lead the way to a technique that works for you - and that's more important than learning the "right" way. After all, the total knowledge of clarinetistry has "discovered" through ages of experimentation.

Above all, have fun. Continue challenging yourself by going beyond what is required.

Kevin Bowman
Clarinet and Saxophone Instructor,
Rochester Conservatory of Music, Rochester, MI
Saxophones, Clarinet, & Keys,
B-Side Blues Project (www.bsideblues.com)

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 RE: High notes to low notes
Author: Rick2 
Date:   1999-08-05 05:11

I agree completely with Kevin. Being trained in physics, I could probably beat the topic to death, but suffice it to say that you need to help the reed make the transition, and you need to kick the air column out of the third harmonic range. Just a hint of legato tongue should do the trick, as Kevin indirectly said. You'll also discover as you gain experience that you dont need the register key to play in the clarion range and even to play some altissimo notes. It's a tool to help the air column into the upper harmonic ranges and to keep the note stable and in tune.

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