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Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2005-05-21 14:58

I want to try again with this subject, doing it in smaller bits this time.

Several years ago I wrote an article about 'support' that I published in the
British Clarinet and Saxophone Society magazine, and then posted to the
Klarinet list; and my chapter in the Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet also
deals with it in part.

However, I find that its central point isn't generally appreciated. (Someone
on Klarinet called it 'gobbledegook', but I think he had his own agenda:-)

Perhaps that's because there are several 'wrinkles' to the idea, which are
best dealt with separately. So, briefly to start with, I'd like to explain
in this first short post why 'blowing the clarinet well' doesn't mean the
same thing as 'playing with support' -- even though some people seem to use
the word 'support' in that way.

It's been made clear here several times that blowing the clarinet well
involves doing so from 'low down', and without pulling in the abdominal
muscles; and of course I agree that that's very important.

But you can blow the clarinet well in this sense without using 'support' at
all. When you're playing very loud, for example, your abdominal muscles are
pushing the airstream only against the resistance of the reed/clarinet

On the other hand, when you play more quietly, you may want to 'support' the
action of the abdominal muscles by providing an opposition from the
diaphragm, reducing the pressure of the airstream, in order to have better
control. What that means is that you're blowing louder than you're playing,
as judged by how hard your abdominal muscles are working. (Remember that the
diaphragm is a muscle that can exert force only *downwards*, to draw air into
the lungs, never to expel air from the lungs.)

On this account, 'support' is a technique that you can use to a greater or
lesser extent, rather than something that is always necessary. The diaphragm
can work to varying degrees against the abdominal muscles, so you can play a
particular passage 'without support', with 'minimal support', and 'with
strong support'.

Compare the situation with the opposing muscles in the arm, the biceps and
triceps. These muscles respectively bend and straighten the arm at the
elbow. Now, if you're trying to lift a weight with either biceps or triceps,
it makes no sense to have the opposing muscle working too. That just wastes

On the other hand, if you're trying to make a fluid gesture with your arm,
you may well need the precise control of both muscles working simultaneously.

I suggest that what we are very often trying to do on the clarinet is to make
a fluid gesture with the airstream.

...to be continued...


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 Topics Author  Date
 Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-21 14:58 
 Re: Support  new
clarinetwife 2005-05-21 15:28 
 Re: Support  new
DavidBlumberg 2005-05-21 16:29 
 Re: Support  new
Robert Moody 2005-05-21 16:46 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-21 16:57 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-21 17:18 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-21 20:43 
 Re: Support  new
Robert Moody 2005-05-22 00:00 
 Re: Support  new
clarinetwife 2005-05-22 02:02 
 Re: Support  new
Alseg 2005-05-22 03:32 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-22 17:20 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-22 19:34 
 Re: Support  new
sdr 2005-05-22 20:17 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-22 21:11 
 Re: Support  new
Liquorice 2005-05-22 22:56 
 Re: Support  new
sdr 2005-05-23 01:39 
 Re: Support  new
Robert Moody 2005-05-23 01:50 
 Re: Support  new
graham 2005-05-23 08:35 
 Re: Support  new
Robert Moody 2005-05-23 12:06 
 Re: Support  new
Alseg 2005-05-23 12:36 
 Re: Support  new
DavidBlumberg 2005-05-23 12:47 
 Re: Support  new
John O'Janpa 2005-05-23 13:21 
 Re: Support  new
Alseg 2005-05-23 14:48 
 Re: Support  new
DavidBlumberg 2005-05-23 15:27 
 Re: Support  new
Alseg 2005-05-23 16:16 
 Re: Support  new
DavidBlumberg 2005-05-23 17:21 
 Re: Support  new
sdr 2005-05-23 18:57 
 Re: Support  new
DavidBlumberg 2005-05-23 19:29 
 Re: Support  new
D Dow 2005-05-23 22:15 
 Re: Support  new
Tony Pay 2005-05-23 22:43 

 This thread is closed 
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