Index / TOC (scroll down for recent blogposts)

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

Table of Contents

The Basics:

On multiphonics:

Special Techniques: 

Specifically for Clarinetists:

On Repertoire:

…on a historical approach to the sound of the clarinet

 Other Popular Posts:

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Multiphonic Trills for Bb Clarinet using the index finger or thumb key

I don’t think there’s been anything more requested than this post. And I don’t have a good reason for not having done it before now, it’s just years-long procrastination. I talk a lot about where the technique comes from (much associated with Sciarrino’s Let me die before I wake) and how to use them in my old post on bass clarinet multiphonic trills.

Here – like in the post on the bass clarinet multiphonic trills, I’ve included all of those trilling either the index finger and thumb key. I think these offer a lot of options in terms of the potential virtuosity of your material: it’s quite easy to continue trilling either key with either the left index finger or thumb, while changing the bottom note.

Sciarrino’s piece is written for a full-boehm clarinet in Bb – this is not the instrument played by most players. The instrument has a low Eb key, the range is extended by one semi-tone, and he makes extensive use of the multiphonics possible with that key. I have included the multiphonics possible with that key but please, please, please be aware that most players will not have these available.

As ever, all of the pitches here are in written – not sounding – notation. The harmonics on top are the individual pitches available, they cannot be played simultaneously (please listen to the audio for clarity of what I mean). That said, some of the pitches, when chosen, do naturally form compound multiphonics and don’t isolate that well (this can’t really be controlled by the player). This happens particularly strongly for me when I play the B natural fingerings and choose the high G, the D quarter sharp finds its way in there as well. (Not entirely sure if this will be the same for other players, so please try this with your collaborator.)

If I play these loudly, the control of the top harmonic gets more difficult – for me, one of the available pitches tends to be more stable than the rest, and so I’ve marked that one with an arrow in the pitch diagram, and provided audio of what it sounds like loud. Because this is the pitch that most naturally comes out at a loud dynamic, I believe it will also be the easiest one to achieve at a quiet dynamic – so pick this pitch if you’re writing for someone with less experience in multiphonics.

The loud ones become increasingly unstable as I move up through the register with a few exceptions, the two on the A fingering sound really raucous and full at a loud dynamic. Also worth being aware that I found the high G on the Bb fingering particularly fragile in the quiet dynamic (and non-existent in loud).

The fingerings are marked either +i or +t – this always refers to the trilling of either the left hand index finger or thumb. There are a lot of ways you could write this, but just including a normal trill fingering with the text +i, and an explanation (and a link to this blog post) in your foreword might do the trick.

If this post was useful, you can buy me a coffee at the link below:

PitchFingerAudio pAudio f
image of a treble clef staff, with a low Eb to D quarter flat trill, and high harmonics gb, b, d#, f#, and an arrow pointing to the b+i
image of a treble clef staff, with a low Eb to E flat trill, and high harmonics A, Eb, Gb, and an arrow pointing to the Eb+t
image of a treble clef staff, with a low E to C sharp trill, and high harmonics B, G, C, F, and an arrow pointing to the C+i
image of a treble clef staff, with a low E
 to E trill, and high harmonics B, G, c quarter sharp, F sharp, and an arrow pointing to the C quarter sharp+t

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Super Fragile, Quiet, Slow-Moving Half-Hole Multiphonics for Bass Clarinet

It’s been a while, but, inspired by a conversation with composer Haukur Þór Harðarson yesterday I found 10 gorgeous, very soft, and fragile bass clarinet multiphonics that you can manipulate by slowly moving back and forth between a covered and half-hole position. These are not trills! They are gorgeous, subtle, slow-moving shifts. The pitches barely change, so I’ve only notated the starting position – and as ever, these are in written (not sounding) pitches. They’re a little airy, I think finding the position just requires a certain way of playing that makes getting a pure sound difficult.

The half-holing is always done with the left-hand index finger – the key itself has a little hole in it that’s usually covered (unless the player is playing in the altissimo register), so all the clarinetist will do is slide their finger down and back again.

Number 9 is quite interesting because I found there were two different positions with two different high notes – a G# and an F – with quite different results. Numbers 1 and 3 also have quite clear low pitches coming in, the other ones not as much. Numbers 5-7 are almost identical in terms of pitch, but the colour changes between them in such a nice way, I had to include all three.

Get your headphones out, these multiphonics are quiet, and they can only be played quietly. So either amplify them or use them in extremely quiet music.

Top tip: you also might notice that they all use the register key—whatever your clarinet, in general, this is always going to mean a more fragile multiphonic.

If this post was useful, you can buy me a coffee at the link below:

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New Notion Template for your Repertoire List – great for any musician!

As many of you will already know, I’m a little bit obsessed with using Notion to keep all aspects of my life organised – but particularly things related to music and my career.

I’ve been developing a repertoire list template for some time, and now, it’s finished!

Feel free to check it out on my Gumroad site:

Before I decided to get serious about making a version that anyone could use, I shared a short on YouTube that gave a little tour of the version that was very much solo clarinet repertoire focused, but it gives you a bit more of an idea of what it looks like (but the version on my Gumroad has a few fantastic other features so please go look at the description there!)

P.s. if you’re a clarinetist and want a version with the 180 solo pieces I’ve got inputted here, just let me know after you’ve paid for the template and I’ll send you a version of that, which you can duplicate to your Notion!

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Study with me at my home or online

Regular or one-off lessons are available either online via Zoom or at my home studio in Woolwich in South-East London. These are available to both clarinettists and also composers who need help and feedback with their work, and can be booked quickly and fuss-free via the Calendly app below.

A photo of me, clarinet in hand, pointing at a screen with a score displayed thereon.

For clarinet players, things you might consider working on in your lessons:

  • Extended techniques (circular breathing, slap tongue, multiphonics, quarter tones and other microtones – basically anything you’ve seen on my blog that you’d like to be able to do)
  • Working on your improvisation skills
  • Graphic Scores
  • Contemporary repertoire (you can see the solo repertoire I’m most familiar with, but I’m happy for you to bring anything to your lesson, so long as you send me a PDF of the score).
  • Chamber music coaching (if you want to bring your ensemble/pianist for a lesson to my home studio, that would be wonderful – I have a beautiful August Förster baby grand for them to play on).
  • Breath work, voicing, posture
  • Advice about the music industry, about building a ‘portfolio career’
  • Advice on studying – where to do it, who else to study with, etc.

Rates for clarinet players are are as follows:

  • initial consultation/one-off lesson, £55 (1 hour)
  • 45 minute follow up lesson, £40
  • A block of five 45-minute lessons is available for £180
  • Chamber music coaching, £80 (90 minutes)

Composers, you might consider booking a session with me if:

  • You’re unsure if you’ve notated something well for clarinet, or if it’s idiomatic or comfortable to play
  • You’d like to explore a technique you’ve seen on my blog in more detail
  • You want to write creatively with multiphonics and need some help or need to hear them first
  • You just want someone to look at your solo piece and give some detailed feedback

Rates are:

  • £40 for a half-hour session (with 15 minutes of looking at your score before our session if you send it to me in advance)

It is very easy to book a lesson with me now through Calendly, just select a time that works for you.

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Masterclass for Composers in Beautiful Croatia in October

Dear Composers – I’m joining Synchronos Ensemble and composer Johannes Maria Staud for a few days in October for a masterclass at Osijek Festival.

Come join us!

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