…on double trills for Bb clarinet

This page is currently undergoing a two-phase reboot. The first phase (now completed) involved remaking all of the image files, fixing any errors I’ve found over the years, tidying up the audio files, and adding proper fingering diagrams (rather than the shorthand I had before, which really did not work on any level). The second phase will be to add another batch of 8 fundamental pitches with double trills for each one.

The fixing up of old posts is part of the goals I set on my Patreon page. Writing these posts take a lot of time and work (I’ve spent about 15 hours on this post alone so far, 8 of those hours this week), so please, if you find the blog useful, consider pledging a dollar or two to my campaign.

There are basically two ways that I think of using a double trill: either by the combination of a fundamental fingering with the rapid alteration of one key with a finger of each hand (producing two different pitches)  or by combining a fundamental fingering with the rapid alteration of two different keys with different hands (producing three or four pitches). Here’s a very short video clip so that you can see the difference between the two, and what the clarinettist does to produce them:

The first type is a little easier to explain quickly, and the possibilities for using it (especially on the Bb clarinet – on the bass since the holes are more or less covered this technique could be used much more widely) are somewhat limited. Here’s a diagram of the most convenient pitch possibilities (in Bb!). Of course the notation here looks like normal trill notation – so just be sure to write ‘double trill’ above the measure, or to come up with some other way to make it clear that this should be a rapid double trill! onekeydoublesAnd here is what they sound like, in the above order:

The second type I mentioned above is best served by loads of good examples, notated for your convenience. This list is by no means complete. There are in fact an endless number of possibilities, so what I’ve done is included some obvious examples, ones that are easy to execute, and for the most part I haven’t expanded in cases where the resulting effects are quite similar even when I change the fingering combinations.

It would be very helpful for the clarinetist when you’re writing out these trills to print the fingering charts either in a legend in the front, or within the part itself. It will not be obvious to the clarinetist if you simply print the pitches.

A quick word about the first three examples and the dyad multiphonics (some of the combinations are multiphonic fingerings resulting in chords). You’re going to be able to hear them, but not all of them all of the time, there’s always just the suggestion of the dyad (the top notes are almost identical with these, so you’ll mostly hear that popping out). These are a little tricky to do, so you should also hear a slight awkwardness when I’m playing them, especially for the ones that start on F’# – the dyads here are particularly tough to bring out!

What the clarinetist will do here is start with the fundamental fingering (the first measure in the example) and then alternate the other two in each example in order to produce the four given pitches.

Fingerings, as usual these days, are from Bret Pimintel’s excellent site. lowe






















As I’ve said before, this post hasn’t aimed to be comprehensive, but to just give you some tools to get started with. You could add a lot of different effects to these double trills, like singing and playing or flutter tongue. Most of them could also be overblown, giving a wild (as in, not easy to control!) multiphonic effect. Hope you enjoy and as usual feel free to comment or email with questions!

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7 Responses to …on double trills for Bb clarinet

  1. Hi Heather ! Congratulation ! Great job ! Very useful and a very clear presentation. Just a remark : on my computer, the soundfiles are very low, I’m hardly able to hear any sound, especially for the low pitches examples. And a question : is the same technic possible on the bass clarinet ? Thanks a lot for your blog.

    • heatherroche says:

      Nicholas, Thanks!
      I don’t really have that problem but I always have my laptop plugged in with good headphones or sometimes speakers, have you tried that?

      The technique is definitely possible, and most of these examples should work similarly, though sometimes the mechanics of the instrument will get in the way (so I’d be careful with the low ones, especially if the middle finger key is in use).

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  5. Lilkim says:

    Thank you very much! I can’t leave without the comment for your effort.

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