Author Topic: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet (& Saxophone)  (Read 472 times)

Peter Anderson

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When it comes to using Voices that mimic actual musical instruments, if we understand something about how the original instrument functions, it should be easier to use that Voice on our Yamaha AR and make it sound more realistic.  What keys we play and how we handle them does make a difference.

I have posted about playing within an instruments range else where on the web site, but in this Pearl, we take a deeper look at this whole subject of playing these instruments authentically.

I will post a complete set on each type of instrument and therefore separate the Pearls with a unique number.   This will make it easier to find them in the future, if members wish to make reference to a particular type of instrument.

To view that other posting, click on this link to open it in a new window:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=1464.0

In the next Reply, we delve into the Clarinet and how to play it.

Peter      

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2018, 11:48:37 AM »
The Clarinet

Although the Clarinet belongs to the Woodwind section of the orchestra, and can, therefore, be made of wood, it may also be manufactured in a plastic derivative.



They have a single Reed, usually made of cane, which actually sits on the mouthpiece, and is clamped to the mouthpiece farthest away from the tip, that goes into the mouth of the player.      Both the mouthpiece and the reed are placed in the player’s mouth.   When blown, the reed beats against the mouth piece.   I am sure you have all done something like this, with a piece of grass between your thumbs, when you were children.

In the case of the clarinet, blowing through the mouthpiece creates a column of air in the tube of the instrument to vibrate.    The player’s fingering controls which holes are open and which are closed.   This alters the effective length of the tube, and that changes the pitch of the sound that comes out.

You may be surprised to know that there are several different clarinets.

The most common is the Bb Clarinet, which is the one most people learn to play when they take up the instrument.

You will also find the Clarinet in A.    This, too, is widely used in orchestras.

The Clarinet in Eb.   This tends to be used mostly in military bands.

The Bass Clarinet, which is also used in military bands, but is also used in some orchestras.

There are a few others, which are older, and we won’t discuss those here as their use will probably not affect what we are talking about on this particular subject.

However, the question may well be asked, “Why are there so many clarinets?”

I'll answer that in the next Reply.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 12:20:46 PM »
So, why are there so many different clarinets?

The reason could well take up a whole Pearl of its own, but you need to understand that the clarinet is one of many musical instruments, which are called Transposing Instruments.

That means they read an individual note, finger that particular note, but the sound that comes out is not that note, because it is another note entirely.

In other words they are not notated at their true pitch, but mechanically and without any extra effort on behalf of the player produce the different pitch.

For instance, let us take the Bb Clarinet.    For the player with this instrument, Bb is the ‘natural key’.    This is somewhat like keyboard players enjoying playing in the key of C.

But the Bb Clarinet player, will read a Bb note on the score, finger a Bb note on their clarinet, but the sound produced will actually be an Ab.   i.e. one tone lower.

If they read a C note and finger that C note, then the sound emanating is actually a Bb note.

Why is this?

The answer is to make the playing of the instrument a little easier, because it reduces the number of sharps and flats that the Clarinetist has to deal with.

e.g. If the music score is written in Eb, which has 3 flats, the clarinetist will actually be playing in the key of F, which only has one flat.

But obviously, I hear you say, they can still come across a ‘horrible’ key, so what happens then.    The answer is to simply swop instruments.     They may pick up a Clarinet in A.    However, when they do so, the music score has to be transposed for them to read it more easily.

The A Clarinet sounds 3 semi-tones lower than it reads.   Therefore, when it reads the note C it actually sounds the note A.

Thus if the sound needed to be in the key of B, which has five sharps, the clarinetist would play with the A Clarinet, in the key of D, which only has 2 sharps.

In practice, nowadays clarinetists are so accomplished that they play in every key, including those horrible ones, with no trouble at all.    This means that the original reason for transposing has virtually been eliminated, but now you know why they were designed that way, and why the tradition continues.

The important reason to know all this, is that if you are accompanying a Clarinet with your Yamaha AR, you will not be able to play from the same piece of music, unless you adjust your Yamaha AR to sound the same note as they are playing!

With a Bb Clarinet, we now know that your AR will sound one tone higher than the clarinet.

Imagine a couple of youngsters playing a duet, with one on the clarinet and the other on the flute, and both reading from the same music.    The discordant noise, because they are playing one tone apart, would be horrendous and you could guarantee that each of them would blame the other, for playing the wrong notes!    Reminds me of Eric Morecambe, on the piano, and with Andrew Previn conducting the orchestra.    In actual fact our two youngsters would both be playing exactly the right notes! even though it sounds awful.

With a piano or organ you would have to have suitably transposed  music.    This explains why you can buy music books written for instruments in Bb.   It does not mean that all the scores are written in Bb.   It means that all the music is written twice, once for the instrumentalist and also for the accompaniment, but one tone lower.

With our Yamaha AR we can get round this problem and simply set out Transpose button to -2, and away we go.   

More to be found in the next Reply.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2018, 08:31:54 PM »
Now for some essential details to remember when trying to emulate the sound of a clarinet on your Yamaha AR.

The range of the Bb Clarinet, when it sounds that is, not how it looks in the music, is from the D below middle C up to F above the third ledger line above the treble clef, like this:



That means that when playing a clarinet with 8’ settings, you should not play either the lowest 2 notes, or more importantly the top 7 notes on your Upper Keyboard, to be authentic.

A good clarinetist will use vibrato when playing longer notes or playing slowly, by controlling their diaphragm and sending quick pulses of air through the instrument.

Once a clarinet player stops blowing the sound stops immediately, so never use Sustain on your Organ with a clarinet Voice, because it is impossible to do so on the real instrument.    Yamaha help us here in that they made sure that with a Voice on our Lead, on the Upper Keyboard, you cannot choose sustain, anyway!

Don’t forget that a Clarinet can only play one note at a time.
So to be authentic, make sure you do the same, and only play single note melodies.    Therefore, select your clarinet voice from the Lead Voice section.

Clarinet players start their notes in one of two ways.
               First      – by tonguing the note
               Second  – by slurring the note

If they tongue the note they effectively use their tongue to say ‘dah’ as they play, and that gives the note a definite start.
However, slurring means that they don’t use their tongue, not even from one note to the next.    This makes the notes smooth.    So here again you can choose to emulate them, by either attacking the note, with a definition from the previous note, or by playing the notes smoothly, almost running your fingers together on the keys.

By controlling the air flow, a clarinetist can increase the volume on one note, or a series of them.     Of all the woodwind instruments, the clarinet has the greatest variation in this area, and achieves the greatest range between loud and soft.

You can replicate this either with your expression pedal, or clever use of your touch sensitive settings.
We have on our Yamaha AR organs, both Initial Touch and After Touch
Initial Touch is affected by how hard you strike the note, whereas After Touch reacts to how hard you press down on the note once you have struck it.     You can combine these two to create the same effect that a Clarinetist can make.  The difference is they use their tongue, breath and diaphragm, while you use just your fingers.

You can view what your Yamaha AR manual says about the Touch Tone feature by clicking this link, to open it in a new window:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3193.0

Mentioning Breath, don’t forget a Clarinetist has to breathe regularly.  So when you use that voice on your AR, you should also ‘take breaths’.
One way of perfecting this is to take a breath as you begin to play a phrase and as you let it out, see how long you can maintain it before you have to take another.  This should help you to lift your fingers from the keys at appropriate points, especially at the end of phrases, in order to allow the Clarinetist to take a breath’.

I trust this will help you to think (and play) like a true Clarinetist.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2018, 03:44:52 PM »
This completes this series of postings about the Clarinet, so to go to the next one in this series - the Flute, click this link:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3113.0

Peter

Roger Mardon

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 11:10:04 PM »
Quote
Don’t forget that a Clarinet can only play one note at a time.
So to be authentic, make sure you do the same, and only play single note melodies.    Therefore, select your clarinet voice from the Lead Voice section.

OK for a solo clarinet but what about two, or more, playing together in harmony? Or am I missing something?

How do I properly select and quote a passage from a post?

Roger

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2018, 11:02:27 AM »
No, Roger, you haven't missed anything.

A clarinet can only play one note at a time, but two different clarinets can play together, of course.

If you do want to play with more than one clarinet set up on your AR, you can easily do this via the Ensemble Buttons.
However, if you have a second clarinet on Upper Voice 1, then don't play more than one note at a time to be authentic, as a single clarinet can't do that.

If you have one clarinet on Lead and another on Upper Voice 1, try making subtle changes to one of them, so they are not exactly the same.   You can do this via the Condition pages.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2018, 11:04:50 AM »
Roger, with reference to your other question:

Just Copy from the posting exactly what you want to repeat, then Paste that into your reply.
Note, it will not retain the  formatting.

Peter

P.S.     The following Reply was repeated this way and you will see that the bold type has vanished.

If you want to re-create it as it was, then add the formatting in your Reply.      I hope this helps.

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2018, 11:05:12 AM »
Roger, with reference to your other question:

Just Copy from the posting exactly what you want to repeat, then Paste that into your reply.
Note, it will not retain the  formatting.

Peter

Roger Mardon

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2018, 02:26:47 PM »
Thanks, Peter. We’ll see next time I want to quote whether I have got that!

Roger

Roger Mardon

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2018, 02:41:38 PM »
I was thinking more of playing more than one note from, say, Upper Voice 1 e.g. C and E followed by C and G where one clarinet is represented as playing C on both occasions and a second as playing the E and the G. In those circumstances playing more than one note at a time would be authentic, wouldn’t it, as we are representing more than one instrument?

Roger

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2018, 10:59:57 PM »
Yes.   But the sound of both clarinet notes would be set to indentical conditions, which in practice is very unlikely.  With two clarinets playing alongside each other, the human ear, which is an astonishing receiver, is able to distinguish them.
If we have them both playing on the AR with identical condition, we would be hard pressed to state that we are playing authentically.

Having said all that, just enjoy playing your music on the AR, with whatever instruments and variations that pleases you.

Peter

Roger Mardon

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2018, 02:09:03 AM »
Peter,

“Having said all that, just enjoy playing your music on the AR, with whatever instruments and variations that pleases you.”

Yes, but I don’t play the clarinet and am pleased to have your expert input on what is, and is not, authentic. The unlikelihood of two instruments playing in identical conditions had not occurred to me, however obvious it might be now that you have mentioned it. My 74-year-old ears may not make the distinction but I enjoy the orchestral capabilities of my AR and want to get it right so I shall take heed of your valuable advice. Many thanks.

Roger

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2018, 09:30:48 AM »
Roger, I value your feedback and comments.
This is a very interesting subject, that as you will see, I touched on a while back, but now I am revisiting it.
I have to be away for the next month, but in July we tackle the flute family, followed by 4 other instrument groups in subsequent Pearls.
I will keep them separate, to aid finding them in future, (should anyone want to).
I have found the whole matter fascinating and I trust other members including you will too.
Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__89___Playing Instrument Voices Authentically - The Clarinet
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2018, 04:00:28 PM »
This completes this series of postings about the Clarinet, so to go to the next one in this series - the Flute, click this link:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=3113.0

Peter