Index / TOC (scroll down for recent blogposts)

air sounds flute embouchure no mouthpiece speaking
aluminum foil flutter tongue preparations spectral multiphonic
articulation glissandi quarter tones tongue ram
bending history register key trills
 composer advice  ‘how to’s for clarinetists repertoire trumpet embouchure
double tongue multiphonic shaking water
double trills singing whistling
dyads slap tongue

Table of Contents

The Basics:

  • …on clarinet articulation covers everything from single and double tonguing, slap tongue, tongue rams, and fluttertongue through to flute and trumpet embouchures, and clarinet shaking. (Tongue ram, and flute and trumpet embouchures, are also techniques wherein the mouthpiece is removed from the clarinet. Other mouthpiece-less techniques can be found in this post.)
  • …on writing air sounds for clarinets deals with all the different ways you can manipulate air on a clarinet: air versus pitch, vowel sounds, outside of the mouthpiece, without the mouthpiece, inhaling versus exhaling, various articulation effects, etc.
  • …on soprano clarinet glissandi The details (and restrictions) of using them, in both directions, and how feasible bending is. It also talks briefly about spectral multiphonic glissandi (another post that talks briefly about spectral multiphonics is the air sound post, wherein I talk about spectral harmonic ‘whispers’ which are essentially very quiet airy spectral multiphonics).
  • …on singing and playing covers all the possibilities of singing and playing, dynamics, how to deal with different pitch material in the voice and clarinet, glissandi, and combining singing with other extended techniques
  • …on writing Bb clarinet harmonics helps you to understand how clarinet harmonics work and how you can use them in your music to create harmonic colour trills.
  • A complete tremolo/moving passages chart (including quarter tones) for Bb/Eb/A clarinets – this post uses a kind of ‘traffic light’ system to help composers write tremoli and fast moving passages, while avoiding impossible intervals.

Special Techniques: 

Specifically for Clarinetists:

On Repertoire:

…on a historical approach to the sound of the clarinet

 Other Popular Posts:

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How to Apply for a (Composition) Competition

If you follow the blog, you’re probably aware that recently I successfully raised funds with crowdfunding in order to fund a competition for young composers. Here is the first blog post in a series documenting the competition process!

The application process is now at an end, and I received 270 applications from all over the world. An incredible and also daunting number. While I had recruited an extremely capable jury (Evan Johnson, Patricia Alessandrini, Harald Muenz, Carl Rosman and Martin Iddon), I could under no circumstances expect them, as volunteers, to read through that number of entries.

I sent them 48.

And after reading through 270 proposals, and culling 222 of them, I’d like to think that now I know a little bit about how to write one. So I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned. But first, a few disclaimers:

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The Competition: Details and Application Form

We’ve successfully raised enough money to fund commissions for six composers!

All the details of the competition can be found in the form below. But remember: no entry fees, you’ll be selected by the jury based on two samples of existing work to write a new piece, for which you’ll be paid a reasonable commission, and premieres will take place in early 2016!

New pieces will be for SOLO (unaccompanied) clarinet or bass clarinet (but you may use electronics if you wish).  You must used the attached google form. If you can’t see it in your browser, try a different one. If that doesn’t work, try this direct link.

Please do not e-mail me copies of your scores and recordings. These will not be considered for the competition. The form is the ONLY way you will be considered!

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One week to go!

There’s just one week lef to raise funds for a competition for emergent composers. This competition will aim to support and encourage young composers in collaboration with an experienced new music player, exposing them to a wider audience and providing them with a decent commission to write their music.

Unlike so many competitions which ask for finished unperformed pieces, I’ll be asking to see a portfolio of work and a proposal for a new piece. All the applications will be judged by a panel of expert composers and the winners will have their pieces performed in London in 2016!!

If you haven’t donated already, please consider it! Even a small donation makes a big difference this week!

here’s the site to donate at!!

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The First Composition Competition!

Dear Followers of the Blog,

I am going to hold a competition for emerging composers!

I want to find six outstanding young composers who are deeply interested in engaging with the clarinet in order to produce new work. I’m going to offer them the opportunity to collaborate intensely, and we’re going to produce concerts (with the premiere in London in early 2016) and high quality live recordings.

What I need to do first is to raise the funds to award each selected composer €1,000 as a commission before they write their piece. Please, please consider making a donation by following this link. Want more information about the competition and how it’ll work? Just follow the link, all of the details are available there.

3,000 people are currently following this blog using their favourite RSS reader. If every one of you donated just €2, we’d reach this goal! I can’t make the competition happen without your support!


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A Collaborative History of the Clarinet: Nielsen / Oxenvad

Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto (1928) was written just three years after the Sixth Symphony was finished, Nielsen at the time was suffering some illness and disillusionment both with his own lack of international success and what he perceived as the state of modern music. The Clarinet Concerto was written in a more relaxed, exploratory vein, along with the Flute Concerto, both ‘studies in empathy.’ (Fanning 2010)

The work was ‘a concerto for [Danish clarinettist] Aage Oxenvad. The composer was so deeply inspired by Oxenvad’s immersions in the essence of the instrument and by his peculiar manner of expressing the soul of the clarinet, that one may safely say that Carl Nielsen would never have written this work if he had not heard Oxenvad. No verbal characterization could be more vivid than Carl Nielsen’s musical one. It tells everything about Aage and his clarinet.’ (Nelson 2008) Oxenvad and Nielsen were close friends, and the clarinettist’s often negatively misinterpreted remark, ‘…he must have been able to play the clarinet himself, otherwise he would hardly have been able to find the most difficult notes to play!’ was not intended as a complaint, but simply an example of dry, Danish, humour (Nelson 2008)

It was Nielsen’s intention that there be five wind concertos, for each of the members of the Copenhagen Wind Quintet, for whom he was inspired to write his Kvintet in 1922. After the premiere of the Concerto, it was clear from at least one critic that this was truly a concerto for Oxenvad:

‘Oxenvad has made a pact with trolls and giants. He has a TEMPER; a perimitive force, harsh and clumsy, with a smattering of blue-eyed Danish amenity. Surely Carl Nielsen heard the sound of HIS clarinet when he wrote the Concerto.’ (qtd. Bryant 1992; 5)


Bryant. M. (1992) “Carl Nielsen” in Nielsen: The Historic Recordings [CD Liner Notes] London: Clarinet Classics

Fanning, D. (2010) “Nielsen, Carl.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. <;.

Nelson, E. (Accessed April 20, 2008) The Nielsen Concerto and Aage Oxenvad.