heather roche

underblown bass clarinet multiphonics

Today’s topic is one of the most beautiful bass clarinet multiphonic effects: the underblown multiphonic. Basically, to create the effect, we use altissimo fingerings, allowing the lower undertones to sneak back in. This is really a follow up post to one I did some time ago on creative ways to make use of the register key. I’d advise having a read/listen through that material before moving on to this post if you want to have a really clear sense of how this technique works.

This post also in a lot of ways follows up on the posts I made about spectral multiphonics (and contra) two weeks ago, and posts on dyad multiphonics (and for bass) from earlier this year. I love categorising multiphonics like this, and I’m hoping that talking about them in different ways helps to give you a greater understanding and the ability to use them more creatively. There is also now a twin post to this one for Eb clarinet underblown multiphonics.

Once again, Elena Rykova has beautifully notated the multiphonics, and I’ve used Bret Pimintel’s site to create the fingering diagrams for the first time. They look great I think and are very clear!

These are all best performed at quiet dynamic levels. Too loud and one risks breaking the multiphonic, with only the top note sounding.

I’ve divided these multiphonics into three categories: one that uses the first register key (and crucially, the venting hole uncovered by the index finger of the left hand), one that uses the second register key (that post on register key usage will be helpful here for clarification) and one that makes use of the throat keys. There are audio examples of each set played in order, followed by a database of the individual multiphonics.

The following example demonstrates the basic series. 

While I’ve left space between each multiphonic here, it would be perfectly possible to play these legato:

Fingering Pitches Audio
   
   
   
 
 
     
     
     

The second series employs the right hand index key, otherwise known as the second register key on the bass clarinet, in order to produce this beautiful set of multiphonics. Here are these 10 multiphonics in order:

And played legato:

Fingering Pitches Audio
   
     
   
   
   
 
   
   
     
   

The final series in our post today employs only ‘throat’ keys: the register key, A, G# and the top two trill keys. Here are these four multiphonics in order:

Fingering Pitches Audio
     
   
     
   

Find the blog useful? Please consider supporting it: