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 Projection and Tone
Author: Keil 
Date:   1999-08-10 22:34

What is the best way to get a superior tone and clear tone? What would you say makes a good clarinet tone?

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Katherine Pincock 
Date:   1999-08-10 23:04

Oh, boy. This is the major project for all clarinet players, something that everybody spends years on. There are a couple of things you can focus on, but pretty well what's required is a lot of time in the practice room working on them. The first thing is good air flow--if you don't have enough steady air, you don't get any tone at all. The next thing is a solid, steady embouchure, to control the air that you put through the horn. There are lots of different ways of describing the right embouchure, but the way that I found made most sense to me is to imagine your embouchure as an O ring around the mouthpiece, with the chin flat and cheeks not puffing. Both of these can be improved by lots of long tone work, but be careful--long tones can be very tiring. Listening to numerous clarinet recordings will help too, because we do duplicate what we hear.
It can take a long time to get just the right combination of things, and of course, there's always lots of adjustments to be made. I'd suggest getting a couple of good long tone studies, from books or teachers, and working on them daily as part of your warm-up. Not only will this help your tone, but you'll also improve your endurance for playing. Hope this helps!

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Hiroshi 
Date:   1999-08-11 01:58

The late great flutist Marcel Moyse said once to his pupil Trevor Wye 'Just listen what I play in this room outside'.
He got out and heard Moyse playing in p a tune,it sounded clearly.Wye,already a famous proffessional flutist,was moved and just walk away to adjacent forest.That is the meaning of projection.So,I do not know how,since I am a humble clarinetist/flutist/saxophonist.

But I can guess acoustically.Projection means sound does not easily diminish. This means dense harmonics.In other words,we should emit centered tone.It is decided by how we shape our inside our mouth(I do not know the appropriate terminology).

Maybe,you should experiment sometime what Moyse did with Wye.Let someone hear outside and check how you sounded.

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: mandy 
Date:   1999-08-11 03:53

i never liked the tone of my private teacher. so i listened to CD's and i listened to the tone that sounded good to me. then when i practiced, i listened to what i sounded like, and i concentrated and experimented. i just listended a lot to myself and better clarinetists, and tried to duplicate what i heard.

good luck,
mandy

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Joanne 
Date:   1999-08-11 07:10

I've found the only way to improve your tone is to improve your listening skills. A teacher can tell you 101 things to do to sound better, but until YOU can hear the sound you want in your head, it will never come out of the horn! Only then will all those vague ideas of diaphragm support, flat chin, open throat, etc start to mean anything :)

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Keil 
Date:   1999-08-11 13:49

I really like Harold Wright's tone, former principle clarinet with the Boston Symphony Orchesta

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Kevin Bowman 
Date:   1999-08-11 17:14

Keil wrote:
-------------------------------
What is the best way to get a superior tone and clear tone? What would you say makes a good clarinet tone?

---
In short:
1) unrestricted, supported, and focused air stream
2) firm, flexible embouchure - the flexibility is just as important as the firmness
3) your own "voice" - or concept of what you want to sound like
4) the right setup (reed, lig, mpc, clar)

I listed these in my order of importance (my opinion). Notice I put quipment last. And even within equipment I listed the clarinet itself last!

As stated by another poster, the production of the ideal tone is the "holy grail" of clarinetists and will occupy your practice sessions your entire playing life.

Have fun!

Kevin Bowman

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-08-12 15:12

I personally believe that Hiroshi has a good point about projection. Being able to play at the piano level of music (fairly quietly), yet having it pierce right through the walls is a pretty good example of fantastic projection. A good pro player should have this kind of projection from his/her horn. The secret to this, as far as I can tell, is to play the instrument right smack in tune for all notes and for all conditions. Tuning practice with long tones and with a meter is the only way I can think of getting this one right. Play with a full breath at mf. Play with almost totally "stale" air at the end of your endurance at ppp. Play low chalemeau. Play clarion. Play altissimo, way up in the nosebleed section. Learn where you and your horn hit right smack in the center of the meter for all of these conditions. My pro tutor can do it for any playing condition I can think of, and for thousands more that I can't even imagine. He has to play in a heavily sound proofed room so even his ff level doesn't distract folks in the other parts of the adjacent strip mall area. Forget fff for him. I can hear that clear out in the middle of the parking lot.

As for tone, I also believe that the folks posting above got it right. Embouchure and air support are the first essential elements of good tone. The quality of the horn has something to do with this, of course. Expect a good pro quality undercut horn to have a much smoother and better tone than a cheap square cut plastic beater of a horn. That's the facts of life. The quality of the reed and mouthpiece of course are heavy factors in this equation. But, I've personally found that taking the same mp/lig/reed setup to a higher quality horn does make a difference. Of course, I had a good tone in the first place, with my beater plastic horn, with my intermediate horn, and now with my good pro grade horn. I agree with the posters above that you should mimic others' good tone and you are on your way to creating a good tone for yourself.

If there would be a magic "quick fix" solution to these areas of the clarinet, I bet good money that folks would have figured it out by now. Alas, there is no such thing. Only by investing years of intensely focused hard work will folks find the "Holy Grail" of the clarinet.


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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Kevin Bowman 
Date:   1999-08-12 20:38

Paul,
I must disagree with your opinion of projection. Projection has nothing to do with being "dead center" on the tuner. Projection is the instrumentalists equivalent of a stage actor "throwing" his/her voice. It has a lot to do with breath support but, in my personal experience (and from what I have witnesses with my students) projection has more to do with a mental concept. I don't know *how* I project, I just do. I introduce the idea of projection to my students very early (in the first year) and, once they get the idea of "playing to the upper balcony" from the stage, their breath support, tone, intonation, etc. all seem to improve. I think it's more of a "style" than a "technique".

I remember my high school band director showing the wind ensemble that how you think about music effects how it sounds. He would have every member simply choose a note to play at random (total cacaphony!) then play the note as he "directed" with his baton. He would then direct a series of notes with a different style - short and snappy, soft and tender, loud and raucus, etc. - just by the motion of the baton. I was amazed that he could start a long note (still the random "chord") starting very delicately then let the note grow in intensity just by his subtle body language. This was all done to prove that you needed to do more than just play the notes on the page and you needed to really watch the conductor for stylistic cues.

This same concept translates to individual playing and projection. I show my students that I can whisper right next to them, then step accross the room and whisper again and still be heard, because I am projecting my voice. It takes breath support but it also takes a mental idea.

Kevin Bowman

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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-08-14 04:29

Kevin:

You have an interesting point. I'll review this with my tutor when I get a chance.

I have heard pro clarinetists playing very softly, yet they could be heard clear outside the concert hall, even during quiet warmups.

If you could describe your technique in words, that could help me understand it a little better.


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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: paul 
Date:   1999-08-14 04:29

Kevin:

You have an interesting point. I'll review this with my tutor when I get a chance.

I have heard pro clarinetists playing very softly, yet they could be heard clear outside the concert hall, even during quiet warmups.

If you could describe your technique in words, that could help me understand it a little better.


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 RE: Projection and Tone
Author: Becky 
Date:   1999-08-21 04:06

Keil,
I know you can buy an "inverted" barrel to improve projection. What's the difference between an inverted barrel and a reg. cylindrical one? Picture water flowing through a garden hose. If you put your finger over the stream, the pressure of the water will soon build up and spurt out. That is like what an inverted barrel does to one's sound. Unfortunately, they're quite costly: about $120. There could be a better buy out there, I don't know.

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