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Author Topic: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s  (Read 5254 times)

Offline Windsong

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2017, 06:16:11 PM »
" One of these days I'll get some bagpipes and really challenge him."
LOL.
Wow!  He's got talent if he can manage all those instruments.
If you really want to throw him a curve ball, show up with a squeeze box or a sitar. 
 ;)

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Offline Lisa

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2017, 07:28:43 AM »
I broached the subject of alto again with the band director, and though he hemmed and hawed, be basically said it's just that they have such a need for a lower woodwind that he really wants me to play bass.  Kind of the good of the many outweigh the good of the one.  I'm sure if I showed up with an alto, i could play it on some of the songs if i wanted to. 
I'm still looking, still thinking about open vs. closed.  I'm looking at another Conn, hard rubber, closed hole with low Eb.  Kind of thinking about the whole outdoor weather thing, as yes, the weather is brutal where I live, and the park the band plays at during the summer is a peninsula, out in Lake Superior.  Even in July, people sometimes have to wear a light jacket for the concerts, it gets so chilly.  I'm also wondering if I shouldn't look into just getting my own bass, as I had to swap out the bass I was issued, the throat key mechanism wasn't working properly.  The one I have now, works, but i think it has a leak or two in some of the RH pads, it squawks, where the other one didn't.  Oh well....
Lisa  Upper Michigan

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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2017, 04:15:57 PM »
Altos are really the black sheep of the clarinet family.  There's really no need for it since the entirety of its range is covered by the soprano and bass.
The upper register = middle register of soprano
Lower register = middle register of bass

And both soprano and bass can go higher and lower, respectively.

But I personally think it sounds a bit sweeter than the bass, and is more gentle on your thumbs when you're going neckstrap/standless :)
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Offline Lisa

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2017, 12:46:16 PM »
So I'm going to toss this out there.  This is one that I'm seriously considering, even though it doesn't have the low Eb.  There's another one, with the low Eb, a plateau key for RH ring finger, but almost the same, open holes, except for over twice the asking price. :(
  It seems to me, since my personal interest in playing alto is mellow jazz, wouldn't the open holes help me get that gentle sound I like? (I love the song As Time Goes by)  I wish I had access to a Bundy alto, with some open holes.  I wonder if i'm putting more stock into what an open holed instrument can do for me.  I've got a two ring albert clarinet, and of course a regular Bb, and roll my fingers off them all the time goofing around.
Open holes would be less maintenance, I keep thinking it would have a more mellow sound because of using my finger pads, quieter to play, since plateau keys aren't popping down, like I hear when I play the bass a little too vigorously.   
When I have time off, like today, i just kind of improv, just play.  I had a super hard time doing that before, but when I got a Native American Flute, it suddenly became easy.  Less standard notes without complicated cross fingering I guess, or I quit trying so hard and learned to just relax and play.
Anyhow, that's what I want the alto for.  Lower than the Bb, but more portable than the bass.  I'm assuming this Conn has a very narrow bore, since it has no plateau keys.  Is it going to sound too thin and anemic, or will it sound sweet, like a narrow bore Bb usually does. (<––notice i said usually!)
Come on, someone has to have heard or played an alto like this, kind of an over grown Bb?
Lisa
Lisa  Upper Michigan

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Offline andybeals

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2017, 08:46:12 PM »

How hard is to write music for an Eb clarinet? 


Apparently, hard enough that in college band it was either play the bari sax part or get a piece custom-written for me...

Just play the Eefer part.    ;)

At the LGBA conferences I've been to, there's a guy who has a talent for causing new parts to appear for the odder instruments: alto and contra clarinets, ophicleide, contra bassoon, etc.  He's an unsung hero.
By chance is this guy named Adam Gilberti?  He's the guy who would always custom write me contra alto parts. Every now and then he would lug in his Heckel contrabassoon or Tubax or something fun and play with the orchestra. He probably owns a million dollars worth of the largest, craziest instruments ever made.

No, his name is Tim.  He plays ophicleide, among other things.
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Offline andybeals

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2017, 08:54:45 PM »
Altos are really the black sheep of the clarinet family.  There's really no need for it since the entirety of its range is covered by the soprano and bass.
The upper register = middle register of soprano
Lower register = middle register of bass

And both soprano and bass can go higher and lower, respectively.

But I personally think it sounds a bit sweeter than the bass, and is more gentle on your thumbs when you're going neckstrap/standless :)

Close, but not quite.  Right-hand notes in the lower register of the alto are left-hand notes on the lower register of the bass.  Tonight at rehearsal, we were working on "Colonial Song" (Grainger).  In the beginning, there's a clarinet choir moment.  I was playing my LeBlanc alto, and the other 6'1" tall redheaded low clarinet player who was sitting on my right was playing his Noblet bass.  It was beautiful.  Our director stopped us and said how wonderful we sounded.

Here it is arranged for a clarinet choir.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyQPqTmepT4
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Offline Lisa

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2017, 10:27:53 PM »
Very lovely!
Lisa  Upper Michigan

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Offline dr_bob_k

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2017, 11:39:50 AM »
On the Bundy, as well as on the Noblet and the LeBlanc (both grenadilla), I prefer a J. D. Hite mouthpiece - cheap at $75 and it brings out a great sound.  Relatively speaking, the Yamaha's usefulness is as something to keep a mouthpiece cap in its proper shape.
I have a Hite mouthpiece on the alto clarinet (Vito) that I may be selling, and it does make a world of difference in the sound.  I also find that Legere plastic reeds are useful--saves time picking out good cane reeds, and also the Fibracell synthetic reeds--they're sold as alto sax reeds.    The Fibracell give more of a "saxaphony" sound, lighter than the Legere.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2017, 02:22:43 PM »
On the Bundy, as well as on the Noblet and the LeBlanc (both grenadilla), I prefer a J. D. Hite mouthpiece - cheap at $75 and it brings out a great sound.  Relatively speaking, the Yamaha's usefulness is as something to keep a mouthpiece cap in its proper shape.
I have a Hite mouthpiece on the alto clarinet (Vito) that I may be selling, and it does make a world of difference in the sound.  I also find that Legere plastic reeds are useful--saves time picking out good cane reeds, and also the Fibracell synthetic reeds--they're sold as alto sax reeds.    The Fibracell give more of a "saxaphony" sound, lighter than the Legere.
I swear by Fibracell. I use them for soprano and alto and bass.  I also use Bari on bass sometimes.  And Legere on contra alto.
Of the three brands I like Fibracell most due to its more "authentic" feel.  Bari has a good texture but is a bit weird.  Legere feels too fake for me but its the only brand of synthetic contra alto reed I can find.
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Offline Windsong

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2017, 07:34:53 PM »
I've never tried a synthetic reed, but they certainly seem to be gaining in popularity.  Does one remove them after each session, like a natural reed, or just every few days or so for cleaning?
How do they compare to reed strength against the real thing?  Are they accurate or do you go up or down in reed strength to match what you are used to?
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Offline andybeals

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2017, 07:23:03 AM »
When I picked up the clarinets again, I did it on Legere.  But I've since switched to cane, for the better (richer) sound, despite their being a pain sometimes. 

Legere publishes a handy strength-equivalency chart:

http://www.legere.com/strength-charts

I make sure to have a Legere reed of each size I'll be playing with, just in case I find my cane has failed me.

I've played Fibercell on alto sax (LOUD!) and on bass clarinet.  I have a pair of Clark W. Fobes "Debut" bass clarinet mouthpieces and have switched between songs from cane to Fibercell when I want to get a dirty sax-like sound.  However, I've recently found that I can push a V.12 reed on the bass into that territory, much to my surprise. 
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 07:31:50 AM by andybeals »
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Offline andybeals

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2017, 08:12:51 AM »
On the Bundy, as well as on the Noblet and the LeBlanc (both grenadilla), I prefer a J. D. Hite mouthpiece - cheap at $75 and it brings out a great sound.  Relatively speaking, the Yamaha's usefulness is as something to keep a mouthpiece cap in its proper shape.
I have a Hite mouthpiece on the alto clarinet (Vito) that I may be selling, and it does make a world of difference in the sound.  I also find that Legere plastic reeds are useful--saves time picking out good cane reeds, and also the Fibracell synthetic reeds--they're sold as alto sax reeds.    The Fibracell give more of a "saxaphony" sound, lighter than the Legere.

And I should mention: The Yamaha 4C alto clarinet mouthpiece is terrible.  You'd do better to put your lips to the end of the neck and buzz.
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Offline tuc

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2018, 04:57:37 PM »
I'm a year late in commenting, but IMHO open-hole alto clarinets are to be avoided, made into lamps, etc.
If a particular player likes playing an open-hole, then fine. Obviously let that player continue rather than turning his/her horn into a lamp.
But if you're buying for a school or a new player, then buy only a plateau (closed-hole) alto clarinet. It shouldn't be hard because they don't really make the open-hole ones anymore.

Relatively speaking, the Yamaha's usefulness is as something to keep a mouthpiece cap in its proper shape.

You're talking about a Yamaha 4C, but I have a story about a non-4C Yamaha alto clarinet mouthpiece.

I just added a new (used) alto clarinet mouthpiece to my collection, which now numbers seven (!) mouthpieces, so I decided to play test them all. The new one (an H.Couf Artist 3*R) is my second-favorite of the seven. My first favorite is a Yamaha marked only "YAMAHA", "FRANCE", and "STEELITE EBONITE", no size marking. I have two thoughts about this mouthpiece:
  • Since when does Yamaha make mouthpieces in France? The 4C and 4CM lines are made in Japan, right? This must be a stencil of something.
  • The first time I tried to play this mouthpiece, I was unable to. Tightening the ligature screws would push the ligature towards the tip of the mouthpiece rather than increasing pressure on the reed. I tried putting rough/sticky stuff between the ligature and the top of the mouthpiece, but that didn't help. That was last year, I think. I was expecting the same thing to happen today and it didn't.
I believe this mouthpiece came with a plastic Yamaha USA YCL-230 alto clarinet, which I'm told was actually made by Vito. The mouthpiece plays much better than I would have expected.

edit: I'm looking for a Portnoy alto clarinet mouthpiece, if anyone out there has one.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 05:05:18 PM by tuc »

Offline andybeals

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #28 on: September 13, 2018, 01:53:50 AM »
I've all but given up on the traditional metal screw ligature because of the slippage problem.  I really do like the Rovner ligatures, across the line - eefer to contra alto.  I also have a Selmer Magni-Tone ligature that works well. 
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Alto clarinet open vs closed, plus ?'s
« Reply #29 on: September 13, 2018, 07:13:59 PM »
tuc – Regarding Yamaha mouthpieces that are NOT the 4C, they can be very good! I have an old hard rubber one labeled "YAMAHA FRANCE 2V" (Bb). The FRANCE 2V designation is typical of MPs made by Riffault, which private-labelled (stenciled) them for other companies. I have a collection of them because they tend to be good, and some are superb. I have two alto ones, and they sound great on my plastic Vito alto. They were made around the 1950's-60's and are very common. Most are labeled Vito, Vito Melodia, or Noblet. One of mine is Yamaha. Back then, Yamaha knew what to do to get their name established ... include a GOOD mouthpiece! Hopefully yours is a great one.
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