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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The competition: and we have six winners!

First of all, I’d like to thank my amazing jury. Harald, Carl, Patricia, Martin and Evan, you guys have done a wonder of a job, and I know it wasn’t easy. (Future competitions will insist on streamed links, I promise. Having to download and organise all the scores and audio files added an inordinate amount of time to the process, I know!)

As you might already know, I sent the jury 48 finalists from an initial list of 270 applicants. My job was hard, their job was harder. There was an inordinate amount of great work here, and it’s terrible to have had to deny so many amazing composers.

And now, I’d like to congratulate the six winners of the competition, presented below with their mugshots and biographies.

These are presented in no particular order, though I’d like to congratulate Onur Yildirim especially, for being the only composer to be awarded the maximum 5 points by the jury!

OnurOnur Yıldırım (b. 1985) is a Turkish composer currently based in New York, where he pursues doctoral studies in composition at Columbia University. His music has been performed at festivals such as Impuls (Graz), June in Buffalo, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP), and as part of Unerhörte Musik (Berlin) and Jeunesse (Vienna) series. Performers of his music include Ensemble Interface, Klangforum Wien, Callithumpian Consort and Hezarfen Ensemble.Onur holds a master’s degree from Istanbul Technical University and a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. His principal teachers include George Lewis, Adam Roberts, John Mallia, Pieter Snapper, Reuben de Lautour, and Malcolm Peyton. He has also participated in master classes and/or had private lessons with Pierluigi Billone, Chaya Czernowin, Aydın Esen, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Kamran Ince, Tristan Murail, Fred Lerdahl, Rand Steiger, and Tolga Tüzün, among others.In addition to his studies in music, Onur has participated in the Leiden University Summer School in Linguistics and attended classes in comparative linguistics—a discipline that has greatly influenced his music.

Natacha Diels (b. 1981) is a performing and composing musician from New Mexico. She founded the experimental chamber group Ensemble Pamplemousse and has been its executive director since 2002; and is one-half of the performance duo On Structure.Natacha’s music has been performed by Pamplemousse, On Structure, Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, JACK quartet, SEM ensemble, The Treble Girls (Anne la Berge and Diamanda Dramm), Ensemble Adapter, and Maria Stankova. It has been presented around the US by the MATA Festival (NYC), Subtropics XXI and Twelve Nights (Miami), AMODA (Austin), the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and the Bar Harbor Music Festival, among others; and in Europe by the Rotation Series for New Music and Sonaar Quartet. Natacha can be heard as a flautist on New World Records (with Christian Wolff) and as flautist and composer on Carrier Records (with Pamplemousse).

Natacha has taught workshops or given lectures in electronic and computer music at Columbia Teacher’s College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Montessori School of Raleigh, Upper Catskill Community Center for the Arts, Redux Arts Center, Hartwick College, Southern Wesleyan University, and Northwest Vista Community College. She holds a BM in flute performance from NYU, a MPS from the ITP program at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, and is currently in her fifth year of pursuing a DMA in composition from Columbia University.

o_portraitOliver Thurley (b. 1988) is a young British composer, currently based in Leeds. Working with a hybrid of contemporary acoustic and electronic compositional techniques, Oliver’s work explores disorientating temporalities, instability and fragility. Sonically, the work is often noted for its approach to quietness, operating at the brink of performative control and perception.Oliver is currently undertaking an AHRC-funded PhD in Composition at the University of Leeds. In 2015, Oliver will be attending the Impuls academy (Graz, Austria) to study with Klaus Lang and have his newest work premiered by Ensemble Nikel.

Robert Phillips
Robert Phillips (b. 1981) is a Berlin-based American chamber and electroacoustic music composer/performer whose music integrates a diverse vocabulary of sound samples, multimedia tools, nonidiomatic instrumental methods, and interrogative approaches to musical style. A range of microtonal techniques and notation strategies are employed to inflect glissandi and vibrati variations within signature harmonic networks, and explore a broad, hyper-expressionist palette, superscribed over a diverse array of materials and samples from a variety of musical tropes and genres. His music has been featured at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Internationale Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, Harvard University Summer Composition Institute, and June in Buffalo, and has been performed by Distractfold Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble SurPlus, Ear Massage Percussion Quartet, Curious Chamber Players, Ensemble Chronophonie, New York New Music Ensemble, Pascal Gallois, Rohan de Saram, and Magnus Andersson. Currently he is working on Der Hunger von Spiegeln, to be premiered at the Lille Opera House by the Ictus Ensemble in 2015. Recent projects include O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, commissioned by Ensemble SurPlus for their 20th anniversary concert at the E-Werk, Freiburg, Aur, for string quartet and electronics, recently recorded by the JACK Quartet at Slee Studios through a grant from the Mark Diamond Research Foundation, Shindō no su, for Talea Ensemble, recently recorded and performed at the Harvard University Summer Composition Institute, and System Vandross, a multi-media performance piece for samplers, electronics, microphone, turntables, and cello, toured around the east coast in 2012 with cellist TJ Borden. He received his B.A. in music from the University of California, San Diego, and finished his Ph.D. in music composition studying with David Felder at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, in December of 2012.

Press Picture
Zeno Baldi (born 1988 in Verona) studied Composition with Klaus Lang (University of Music, Graz) and Gabriele Manca (Conservatorio di Milano).
He attended master classes and lessons with Georg Friedrich Haas, Pierluigi Billone, Beat Furrer, Marco Stroppa, among others.
Zeno was selected composer for the Session de Composition “Voix Nouvelles” 2013 at Royaumont Fondation (led by Brian Ferneyhough, Fabien Levy, Oscar Bianchi) and for ManiFeste Academy 2014 – IRCAM (led by George Benjamin).
His music has been performed by (a.o.) Divertimento Ensemble, Exaudi, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Namascae Lemanic Modern Ensemble, Domenico Nordio, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, within concerts, festivals and workshops in Italy, Austria, France, Scotland and Sweden.
Recent/upcoming projects include a piece for viola d’amore and electronics dedicated to soloist Marco Fusi, a music theatre piece for the swiss-italian project XiViX Op. 1515 (Klangbox) and a piece for historic organ (Callido Project).

Ian Power is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, and a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University under the advisement of Chaya Czernowin, currently living in Baltimore. Born in Rochester, N.Y. in 1984, he studied at UC San Diego and Ithaca College, attending classes and workshops at the Brevard Music Center, the Darmstadt New Music Summer Courses, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. He has also studied with John Luther Adams, Steven Takasugi, Amnon Wolman, Antoine Beuger, and Robert Morris. The New York Times has praised his work’s “resolute ooze and elemental graininess”; accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros once called him “a tough act to follow.” Find more info at, or on twitter and soundcloud at @ianpowerOMG.

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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!