Category Archives: Articles

Resonance Fingerings

The ZOEN Blog has a great article up on using resonance fingerings for clarinet.

One of the most problematic aspects of clarinet playing is achieving an even, fluid timbre across the instrument’s range, through all dynamics and articulations. Barring extreme altissimo, the most unforgiving notes on the instrument are the throat tones – F, F#, G, Ab, A, and Bb. They tend to be weak, stuffy, out of tune, hard to project, and unpredictable from player to player.

I ALWAYS play my throat tone Bb with the “resonance fingering.” It’s something I think I started doing in college while using a “crappy” Buffet clarinet they had (by “crappy” I mean it played the throat tones out of tune and stuffy).

Classic Jazz Music Stations – USA

Came across this. There are several streaming radio stations that do jazz. Good stuff. Click the source link for more stations.

Classic Jazz Music Stations – USA:

Here are around 30 of the best full time Classic Jazz” radio stations in the USA. They are broadcasting “live” from various locales across the country.  All these stations have been very carefully selected based the on quantity and quality of the jazz they play.   Just click on the station’s name and it you will go directly to the music.  Enjoy… 

 
 
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(Via Jazz Radio Online)

David Erato On His Clarinet “Journey”

Ok, I hijacked the title from Bret Primentel’s blog entry about it. (read his summary on Davd’s article. It’s good)

David Erato decided he wanted to get better on clarinet. So, he set up a regimen to do just that.
“The idea as a “doubler” is to make whatever instrument is in your hand not feel like a foreign object. One should really study the instrument as if it is the only instrument you play. Practice the same method books, etudes, solos, as a clarinetist in a symphony once did. Jump through the same hoops and walk the same path traditional clarinetists do. “

I did something similar about 8 years ago with Oboe……

Eddie Daniels’s Solo on “Air Mail Special”

One of the most appreciated clarinettists in the world performs one of Benny Goodman’s favourites. The track is in fact taken from the album “Benny Rides Again”  in collaboration with Gary Burton as a keen homage to Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton.

This solo for advanced players and you’ll find below a brief analysis:

  • The key in which the composition is performed is different from the one you may find in some Real Books: it’s in “D” in spite of “C”.
  • Note how the use of the “glissato” is definitely almost absent (compared to swing clarinettist of the past) and replaced, in some cases, by the chromatic scale.
  • For most of its extension the solo stays within an octave and a half hardly going under the “B” on the third line. This is one of the main issues encountered on clarinet solos on up-tempos or in situations where the instrument is somehow “weakened” or out-powered the other players (e.g. in big bands). Therefore the chance to explore and value the dark sounds is limited forcing the player to a brighter and louder part of the clarinet which may turn up to be, in the long run, counterproductive.
  • The chord sequence of this track is a kind of “rhythm change” in the “A Section” where “D” is mainly meant as “D7”, and then the original chords are played on the “B Section”.
  • Daniels’ approach to the solo is mainly diatonic except for the “B section” of the first chorus where he uses chromatic passages and for bars 10-13 where the chords |D7  Ebmaj | G7 | Cmin7 Gmaj7 | D D7 | are superimposed by the melodist.  
  • Note how he begins and ends the solo using the pentatonic scale on the main key.
  • Note how he plays the “F” mixolydian scale at the end of the first eight bars which ends up on the flat 9th of the chord in bar n.10 (D7).
  • Note how he “sticks” by the diminished arpeggio in bars 17-20.
  • Note how he emphasizes the minor third (blue note) during the last eight bars of the first chorus.
  • Bars 33-36 may be meant as | D | Cmin7 | E7 A7|.
  • He emphasizes even more the Blues Scale in bars 46-49.
  • Again extremely stuck on the diminished arpeggio in bars 50-52.
  • Note how he emphasizes the major seventh on the dim7 chords in bars 53-58.

NB: The score is for “Bb” instruments.

Audio File
Slow Down Audio File

“At the Woodchopper’s ball” (solo by Woody Herman)

This solo is based on a Blues (in “D”), a basic form very important for the musical development of any jazz musician and, moreover, is for intermediate players thus approachable by the majority of those interested.

Some considerations about this solo are listed below:

  • Note how each chorus begins with a melodic line that lasts four bars and it’s repeated the next four bars. This is a typical approach to the blues. Some would play the same line for the whole extension of the chorus (generally twelve bars).
     
  • The way he approaches the second chorus resembles a lot the style of the saxophonist Johnny Hodges.
     
  • The “glissato” as a main clarinet feature (thanks to its acoustic characteristics) and a technique sometimes overused by a whole generation of clarinettists of the past or with styles influenced by Dixieland, New Orleans, 40s swing, etc. Lots of “contemporary” clarinet-players tend to avoid this overuse trying to have a wiser use of it.
     
  • Besides a minimum use of ghost-notes, there is a very little use of certain kind of dissonances indeed (altered fifth or ninth, etc.) except for some chromatic passages at the end of the solo or for the 5th and 6th bar of the second chorus where we encounter a sharp-fourth caused by the repetition of a pattern which comes form the beginning of the chorus and is set in “D” major.
     
  • Note the complete absence of the so-called Blues Scale. We encounter a minor third (blue note) at the end of the solo caused by a small pattern where there is the repetition of an ascending half-tone.

NB: The score is meant to be for “Bb” instruments

Audio File (MP3)

Micing Clarinet for Live Applications

I am playing in a duo here in SE Asia, accompanying an acoustic guitar player, playing through some pop and blues tunes. When I’m not playing clarinet, I am picking up the bass guitar or playing the cajon. I would really like to do my clarinet justice, but the sound is currently only ‘acceptable.’

I now have an AKG dynamic mic (the little one with the adjustable gooseneck ) clamped onto the bell, and a Shure SM58 around the middle pointing toward the tone holes in front. I also have a Shure Beta 98, but lacking phantom power, will have to wait until I get a pre-amp.

Any stories of applications that have worked for you in the past would be great!

Finger Tension

“Hi everyone. I’m new to the site. I played clarinet in high school but gave it up after college. It’s not 15 years down the pike and I picked it up again to study seriously about 6 months ago. I was classically trained but I’m learning jazz.

Anyway, I have always been plagued by bad finger tension, especially in my right hand. It really impedes my technical ability. My right hand becomes almost like a rigid claw in just a few minutes of scale workouts. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to maintain a more relaxed posture/fingers when playing?”

You might consider stretching exercises for your fingers, and maybe getting one of those grip master things as well. Fingers have muscles, and the muscles need stretching and stuff. And frequent breaks. And doing something other than “assuming the position”. Ask pianists. Or guitarists. There are lots of things on the net too. But, I’d start with trying to stretch the fingers first, and your wrists.

Albert System Clarinets

Does anyone use an albert system clarinet for jazz?  I’ve already talked with a couple of players who swear by them.  (And, moreover, I was impressed by the projection without a mic over a crowded dance floor.)  It’s pretty easy to find a cheap fixer-upper on ebay, so I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge.  Any thoughts?