First, a couple of general rules for pitch bending on multiphonics:
* The highest audible pitch is the one being bent, and the pitch is always bend downwards, never up.
* Bending a multiphonic often has an effect on its fragility, surprisingly this means increasing its stability in some cases.
* They don’t always work the first time, so clarinetists should try to practise them a little.
* Bending multiphonics sometimes creates different beating patterns which can be controlled (with practice).
* Not every multiphonic can be bent, some are completely destabilised by bending and break (meaning only one pitch will be heard). I’m only including some examples here. Ask the clarinetist you’re working with to help you come up with others if you are using different pitch material. (If this post ends up being popular then I’ll add some more examples down the line!)
As usual these days, fingering diagrams from Bret Pimintel‘s awesome site, and pitch diagrams handdrawn by the lovely Elena Rykova. The following are meant to serve examples, I’ve included audio of the multiphonic alone and with pitch bending, plus some information about each example.
Let’s start with one of the most stable examples. Here is a multiphonic in which the upper note can be lowered without any sacrificing of stability. The quality of sound also remains fairly consistent. I’ve made two takes, first at the easiest dynamic level (mf – f) and then a second at what was for me, the softest possible dynamic.
This multiphonic starts with an extremely high rate of vibrations. As I lower the higher pitch, the rate of vibrating stays relatively stable, only slowing slightly, so that an effect of continuous buzzing continues. In a second take, I bend too far, breaking the multiphonic, and only the fundamental remains. And in the third take, I demonstrate what happens when playing this multiphonic at an unstable dynamic range, namely, a quiet one. The effect is still present, but extremely fragile.
Here is a classic example of a multiphonic that begins in a relatively stable state of purity, and as I bend downwards, the vibrations increase, eventually creating a buzzing effect. I’ve made two takes at different speeds of bending. (Perhaps you can hear this, but it seems to me that it’s more difficult to bend back upwards without things becoming a bit destabilised.)
These multiphonics begin at a lower dynamic level, very wide intervals and as such, quite fragile. In the first take, I lower the pitch, introducing the vibrating effect until it becomes quite a stable buzzing. In the second, I’ve attempted to do this faster.
This multiphonic produces a very unusual effect when bent at a mf dynamic. It is not the most stable multiphonic to begin with, but when bent downwards, this instability is accentuated. It was impossible for me to maintain a consistent tone, so this ‘skipping’ effect is produced.
Much like the previous example, the fragility of this multiphonic is highlighted through the bending of the upper note. This time, however, the multiphonic tends to buzz as it reaches the bottom of its bend. Another unique effect.
It’s quite rare that a multiphonic with a close interval (within an octave and tagged as ‘dyads’ in the app) can be bent in this way. I argue that this is due to the fact that in order to produce these effects, the throat position is already quite open, not dissimilar to the way it is when pitch bending. Still, occasionally this remains a possibility, though the effect is fragile and the bend is rather small.
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