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 Voicing on German system clarinet
Author: kehammel 
Date:   2021-11-11 18:44

I found this old thread because I play an Albert system clarinet, and was thinking it might be interesting to try a German system clarinet someday. I see that Paul Aviles refers here to the concept that you "just blow" with this kind of setup:


Could someone (maybe Paul) explain what this means? Is the tongue position and embouchure required to get the right voicing any different from that on a French system clarinet? Given the setup mentioned- soft reed, long mouthpiece facing, and small mouthpiece tip aperture- I'm having trouble understanding how high notes are successfully produced. But of course I have absolutely no experience with this system.

(Posted again as a new thread instead of attaching it to the old one)


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 Re: Voicing on German system clarinet
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-11-12 03:05

Well, let me address, "just blow." This is really a comparison against the US players, many of whom have an obsession with embouchure. I lived this with all the "shoulds" and "have to(s)" I heard in lessons and master classes. The quote came from Bas DeJong who had at one time represented the Viotto mouthpieces. He and some fellow Dutch players were more than a little amused by the American players and the embouchure fixation. After some back and fourth with Bas, he did concede that there is a modicum of support required by the lips, but not nearly what many across the Pond do as a matter of course.

Now, without having played a German mouthpiece with German 2 1/2 strength reed (Vandoren White Master Traditionals are just fine) you would not even be able to conceive of the result. I was even a skeptic after my very first trial.........and rather dismissive. HOWEVER, much later that night after the hour or so I played on the mouthpiece, I realized in retrospect despite how it felt (and it felt like a beginner set up), I recalled that though a bit soft, the sound was very pleasant and resonant and I was able to achieve a wide dynamic range throughout the full range of the horn. It did take me a few weeks to realize some of the potential and almost six months to really get into the swing of things. I have since gone back to a French set up, but always with the idea that I will make the combination as easy and effortless as possible.

I don't think in terms of voicing, never have. There was a video of a fairly well known US pedagog that hit the nail on the head about finding that sweet spot in air support. I personally only use air support to change air speed from register to register. If you are careful to not change anything about your embouchure at all, you can move your tongue ALL AROUND your mouth with virtually no effect on the sound whatsoever. You then have to ask yourself if there is really anything to the voicing thing (outside of changing air speed by changing the volume of the oral cavity).

So you can have a great sound on either French of German mouthpiece configurations by "just blowing." And I would say that that is probably the best way to go.

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

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 Re: Voicing on German system clarinet
Author: kehammel 
Date:   2021-11-12 21:30

Thanks, Paul. I am in fact a quite inexperienced player. I've noticed how getting my tongue tip closer to the reed (using an ee vowel, as often recommended) brings the pitch up and focuses tone quality. Presumably by increasing the air speed. And consequently, I can then use a longer barrel.

In principle, it seems the air speed could also be increased by changing the dimensions of the mouthpiece and reed. Apparently German cut reeds are narrower than French. Perhaps a German mouthpiece chamber also has different dimensions, such as being narrower, that increase resistance and airflow? This could then have consequences for how the player shapes his/her oral cavity.

Again, I know little about this, but it's interesting to learn more about it.


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 Re: Voicing on German system clarinet
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-11-13 01:15

Yes, there certainly are more dimensional differences. But once you get the reed vibrating (and the resulting air column), the differences are more acoustical. I found that (as Bas asserted) the German mouthpiece can be quite effectively used upon a French clarinet, but there are some other compensations involved. The overall length of the German mouthpiece is slightly longer and consequently one has to compensate for slightly flatter altissimo notes (the main reason I switched back).

Still though using the German mouthpiece ( at least for a set amount of time) is by far the easiest way I know to train oneself to play with a very relaxed set up and still achieve great sound, pitch and dynamics.

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

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