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Author Topic: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?  (Read 239 times)

Offline LarryS

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2020, 08:14:22 AM »
Clarinet is often not a joy to play. It often feels like trying to force water out of a long garden hose.

Air should flow right out of the horn. Is your clarinet in top playing condition?

A good reed is joy to play.
Oh yes the horn is fine. Its the soft squidgy part that's the problem, i.e. me
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2020, 08:27:26 AM »
I contemplate the reply from Modernicus, but I'm rather speechless except to say "to each our own".

Larry - Regarding being hard to blow, it may be time for a leak test. On a new instrument (or overhaul) pads and corks settle in over a period of months and often leave a trace of leakage. A leak is like having a big of cotton stuffed under a guitar string. It causes resistance to the oscillation.

If the entire range of the horn is stuffy or requires high pressure, then the leak is high on the horn.

Testing methods have been described in this network and are also described in some good YT videos. My favorite method of locating a leak is to use a cheap modified stethoscope, as described in a posting here.
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Offline LarryS

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2020, 09:31:04 AM »
I think its just a case of  me and my weak untrained embouchure, and comparing clarinet playing to recorder playing.
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Offline LarryS

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2020, 09:32:33 AM »
Btw windy I sent you email
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2020, 11:02:03 AM »
Nevertheless, Larry, every player regardless of the age and quality of the horn, should do a simple leak test that takes a few seconds. If it's tight, go forth with confidence that your problems lie elsewhere!

If it's not tight, address it, or your spinning your wheels.

Leaks occur at pads, but also at tenon corks, occasionally, if one is too loose or out-of-round.

Leakage may interfere with playing pp (pianissimo, quiet) more than forte.
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Offline TMHeimer

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2020, 06:17:46 PM »
Clarinet is often not a joy to play. It often feels like trying to force water out of a long garden hose.
It does come with a lot of built in problems, even though the first 7-8 left hand notes you learn make it about the easiest instrument to start on. Reeds mainly, and mouthpieces, and as mentioned good maintenance. I used to tell my beginners (on all instruments) to "become freinds with your instrument".
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Offline LarryS

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2020, 04:54:32 AM »
Its still easier to play than recorder, fingering wise anyway.
And because of the rings its easier to gliss notes and do rolls. That's why if I get a flute I would prefer one with open holes
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2020, 10:51:54 AM »
Back to diaphragm pressure ("breath support"), here's my observation as I play loud to soft – I start with strong support in the abdominal core. As I relax that tension slightly, the volume drops – BUT I must sense how much pressure drop creates a low volume. It may be that I drop 20% of the pressure to get a quiet tone. Or 50% or more. That depends on the resistance of the instrument. I learn to vary the pressure within that range.

You must meet the demand of the instrument for breath pressure, even when playing quietly. You learn to correlate your pressure range to the dynamic range as you do loud-soft exercises.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2020, 09:49:18 AM »
Also Larry, ref. to your comment "because of the rings its easier to gliss notes and do rolls. That's why if I get a flute I would prefer one with open holes" ... I've played open-hole flute since the 70's. I spent daily sessions for many months working on glissando coordination to play blues. There are severe limitations to what you can do. As you slide off a hole, the sound dies for most of the slide. You need to slowly lift the key as you slide, and get it just right. And then, there are only 5 half-step intervals that offer this possibility. So in the end, I abandoned that technique in favor of other techniques. Primarily I bend flat using breath control and occasionally rolling the hole closer to the lips. Lots of chromatic scale practice gives me flexibility as well.

I also spent years making my own keyless wooden flutes ... but NOTHING in the way of flutes comes close to the expressive flexibility of the clarinet (except various ethnic flutes, but the are not fully chromatic). "Irish" flutes (classic 19th century conical flutes) give more flexibility too, more like your recorder. Rejoice!
« Last Edit: December 28, 2020, 01:47:02 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline LarryS

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Re: Is there a trick to playing quietly ?
« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2020, 10:58:25 AM »
Clarinet is often not a joy to play. It often feels like trying to force water out of a long garden hose.

Air should flow right out of the horn. Is your clarinet in top playing condition?

A good reed is joy to play.
Its 3 years old and I have a very good reed.
You don't stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing.
My music blog:
The Music Tree


Clarinet Pages are go!