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Four Octave Tremolo/Moving Passages Chart with Quarter Tones for Bass Clarinet

This is the bass clarinet version of my previous post (for Bb/A/Eb clarinets) on the same subject.

I’ve created for you a chart that demonstrates quite clearly (I hope) in three octaves the relationships between all the pitches, including quarter tones. You can download a .pdf of the full chart here.

So let me explain the chart, which is transposed (in Bb)!

Each entry looks a little like this.

The first note in the system is the starting pitch. Every coloured pitch that follows the double bar line indicates the distance from the starting pitch.

Green = You can write a trill/tremolo between these pitches.

Yellow = The combination can be used in fast running passages, but not in trills. To clarify: Moving back and forth at speed one will hear the failed connection, but in running passages, yellow pitches can be executed well enough that the listener won’t hear the difficulty. Of course, do keep in mind that not all yellow connections: generally speaking the bigger the jump the more difficult it gets. These are all possible leaps, but do take their difficulty into consideration. The best way to get a clear idea of what kind of effort these leaps take is to listen to as much clarinet repertoire as possible!

Red = Avoid these connections if you can. Many can be connected well at slow tempi, quite a lot of them are risky. Do not under any circumstances write tremoli. (Especially in the case of the D quarter flat in the second octave – this quarter tone has no viable fingering!)

Blue = These blue marks above some of the yellow and red pitches indicate special trill fingerings. Often these trill fingerings can not be used in running passages, but it means that even though you can’t write a D to an E quarter sharp in a running passage (in tune!) (as in the above example), you can use it as an isolated trill. You shouldn’t need to add the fingering to your score, these special fingerings are almost always a combination of the right hand trill keys, which most clarinetists should be able to figure out without any difficulty, but if they don’t have an option and tell you it isn’t possible, you can refer them to the chart which hopefully will help clarify things.

In the Bb clarinet chart I think I did things in a way that was intended to be more specific, but ended up just being confusing. Any tremoli that were only possible with a “faked” fingering, I marked in yellow or red, and listed the fake fingering above. Here, I’ve tried to simplify, so any possible trills are in green, and if there’s a fake fingering necessary, I’ve given a little hint for it above.

If you’re a clarinetist and trying to work out fingerings (especially for the super altissimo quarter tones), a resource you may find useful is Jason Alder’s fantastic fingering chart. I find it extremely useful, although there are still a few fingerings there that don’t work for me, and a few others that I use that he doesn’t list. There’s no criticism here — in the  altissimo there are just so many options. Also, Jason can play quite a bit higher than I can – I become extremely unreliable after that high G, but it’s asked for so infrequently that I’ve become rather lazy about working towards improving my range after that point. Anyway clarinetists may be interested to see what’s possible here.

You’ll notice that there is no series starting from the D quarter flat on the fourth line. That’s because there is no viable fingering for this pitch and it should be avoided in all cases! I was thinking of drawing this every time the D quarter flat appeared, but thought that might be overkill (so to speak). But do try to keep it in mind:

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