TONE SHAPING: PRODUCING A GOOD TONE
The clarinet possesses a tone quality and character that is distinctly different from other woodwinds. Three separate registers each with its own quality and timbre make up the entire range of the instrument. Each register's voices differently but all must meld into one another to create a smooth and unmistakable characteristic called clarinet tone. Let's consider for a moment the qualities which we should expect from this tone. Most certainly these should include carrying power/focus, penetration and resonance in all registers and at all dynamic levels. Without these attributes, the clarinetist will have great difficulty projecting through the orchestral mass maintaining the required flexibility for freedom of expression to the most subtle musical phrasing.
Clarinet sound is produced by the action of a single-beating reed, closing and opening hundreds of times each second against a non-vibrating hard-material mouthpiece. We should look for the greatest possible reed resonance at all times. The greater the resonance of the fundamental tone producing the more prominent partials, the richer the tone and the stronger its carrying power. It is not a detriment to the player to maintain a slight "reedy edge" no matter how loud or soft the tone. This "edge" is apparent only at a very short distance e.g. in the practice room, but it is this "reedy edge" that projects the tone in the concert hall.
The desire for a full, "big" tone has been the pitfall of many a clarinet student. Attempting to emulate a fine player one might have heard in the concert hall, the tendency to produce a "clean" tone - a tone with no reediness - might drastically reduce considerable resonance as well as the power and individuality of the tone itself.
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