Emergent Bb Clarinet Multiphonics: Part 1 – Overblowing

I think it’s useful, if you’re a composer, to make use of the fragile qualities of multiphonics. Some of them don’t that well as chords that sound together, but as a composer you can take advantage of this, and make use of these emergent multiphonics. This simultaneously has the added bonus of making your clarinetist look like they know what they’re doing: one pitch gracefully becomes two or three, rather than a chaotic huffing-and-puffing desperation to have the two pitches sound together.

I wanted to come up with a nice list of some multiphonics that do this effectively, and to find ones that start on as many pitches as possible. I’m going to ignore pitches below B3 (because you need to use spectral multiphonics for those, that’s your only option) and this first part covers the pitches up to and including B4. This list will by no means be conclusive, the vast majority of multiphonics have some ability to do this, it’s really just a sample. I’ve also tried to pick ones that do this quite easily, but if you’re just looking for easy multiphonics, check this out. 

A few things: the starting pitch can be held as long as is reasonable for breathing, but I’ve only held them for a second or so in the recordings. The top notes can be quite fragile – the higher the top note, the more fragile it tends to be. Listen to the recordings: they should make the colour of the sound obvious.

Some of these multiphonic fingerings can produce multiple second pitches, so I’ve included them wherever possible. Recordings should add further clarity.

This post is a kind of extended variation of stuff I wrote about for The Sampler a few years ago.

As usual these are written pitches, not sounding! And I recommend a pair of headphones, or the bottom pitches, particularly in the lower registers, can be difficult to hear.

Pitch Option 1 Fingering Option 2 Fingering Recording
bquartersharp139 139 bquartersharp158 153
c90 90 c161 139
cqsharp242 139
dquarterflat182 182
d284 284 d154 139
dqsharp166 166
dsharp215 215 dsharp184 184
equarterflat138 139 equarterflat95 139
e247 efixed e174 efixed2.gif
equartersharp258 139 equartersharp194 194
f283 283 f63 63
fsharp237 139 fsharp287 287
fsharp195 195
gquarterflat238 238 gquarterflat249 249
gquartersharp149 149 gquartersharp185 185
gsharp286 286 gsharp199 139
aquarterflat190 139 aquarterflat88 88
a57 57 a129 129
aquartersharp151 139
asharp125 139 asharp198 139
bquarterflat221 139
b126 126 b106 106
bquartersharplast1 139 bquartersharplast2 139
This entry was posted in dyads, multiphonic. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Emergent Bb Clarinet Multiphonics: Part 1 – Overblowing

  1. Hi Heather, thanks for your fantastic blog! It’s super useful for composers like myself.

    I have one question considering these emergent multiphonics. For some of the fingerings you have two possible upper notes. Is it possible to transition smoothly between those two notes while still maintaining the fundamental note?

    • heatherroche says:

      Hi! I’m so sorry I’m only responding now but yes! Definitely! It’s one of the best effects :)

  2. Veronica Jang says:

    Hi there! Thanks for sharing those amazing techniques. As a composer, I do have a silly question, are those notes the only notes can be done as over blowing? or I can choose the notes I want to get the sound effect I want?hopefully I explained myself clearly!

    • heatherroche says:

      Hi Veronica, so sorry for the huge delay to my response – but basically those are the notes that are available with those multiphonics! (There might be some flexibility with a super experienced player, and some differences with different mouthpiece/clarinet models, but it’s basically those pitches or nothing!)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.