Bad Air Day

Every once in awhile I just have a bad air day! Today nothing seemed easy, even breathing. I could have been playing a hollowed out carrot for all the control I had over playing clarinet.

But I wanted to respond to a few suggestions made by readers. Some clarinetists, who commented on Facebook about the "Jenajean 2 Entire" video, wondered if the first part would be more effective played more freely, rhapsodically. I agreed. However, I explained that my original version followed Jeanjean's markings, didactic as it sounds. It brings up a longstanding question in classical music performance. How much interpretation is too much?

Also, today someone asked if I'd play Jeanjean 2 on my Buffet since I've been waxing eloquently about it's tone over the Selmer. I do so with the video clip below. I also including two sound clips, a short scale on each of the two instruments. To my pleasant surprise, their tones are not radically different. I'll see who can guess which is the Buffet.

Clip 1

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Clip 2

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Here's the video of the first part of JJ2 on my Buffet R-13, same Backun barrel, same Behn Vitage D mouthpiece and Legere Signature reed as I played on the Selmer. I recorded the whole thing, but the second part just wasn't up to being posted.

The gnarly grace notes at the beginning of the 5th line did not cooperate well on the Buffet. In fact, the Buffet, with it's beautiful tone, was harder to play on dicey technical passages than the Selmers. It didn't help that I was having a bad air day, either.

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13 comments for “Bad Air Day

  1. EdW
    December 19, 2009 at

    Sometimes I feel that it is all an equation. There are many ways to come up with the same total. It often seems to me that if I change one piece of equipment, I often end up making some other changes to find the sum that I am looking for. The clarinet, mouthpiece, ligature, reed, barrel all play some part in finding the right solution.

    For example, a more resistant mouthpiece might need the other parts to play a slightly different role than a very responsive mouthpiece. The same goes for the rest of the puzzle. It is a great feeling when one finds the parts that seem to click together and it all just works and feels like an extension of yourself.

    • December 19, 2009 at

      Great description. I may quote you in a post, if that's okay with you.

  2. EdW
    December 19, 2009 at

    I often feel that when dealing with equipment changes, nothing is perfect. Each has strengths and weaknesses. I would love to hear the differences in a live situation. In these clips, the Buffet seems to have a more supple quality, and seems in some ways a bit lighter. The upper register may be just a bit thinner. The Selmer seems to have a little more "hold" to the tone and seems a bit more even in timbre. It also seems as if it would contain the tone a bit more at loud volumes. But, that said, it may be easier to color the tone on the Buffet. It is always a trade off and an issue of deciding which is easier for you to find your voice.

    • December 19, 2009 at

      Thank you, Ed. I agree with every word you write. Even beyond sound, the Selmer is much easier to control in delicate technical passages. You can see why I would fall in love w them.

      Another factor is the mouthpiece and how it sound with each instrument. The choice continues.

  3. Omar
    December 19, 2009 at

    The 1st clip definitely sounds better.

    • December 19, 2009 at

      Thanks for the input. It really helps me stay on track.

  4. Gretchen Roper
    December 17, 2009 at

    I also guessed #1 as buffet before I saw your answer. I'd say the first just sounds "free", as in the sound soars, whereas the sound of the Selmer is a bit "tight". The buffet scale sings like a person's voice. 🙂

    • December 17, 2009 at

      Thanks Gretchen. That helps inspire me to do the extra work it takes to control technical passages on the Buffet. It's a trade off.

  5. December 17, 2009 at

    Is Clip 1 Buffet?

    • December 17, 2009 at

      Yes. You got it. Would you describe it as \”rounder\” and \”fuller\”? I am curious what words people use.

      • December 18, 2009 at

        Perhaps not rounder, but certainly fuller. I would describe the Buffet as more compact, brilliant and ringing. Also, I would say that the tone of your Buffet has more core to it than the Selmer – the Selmer is for me vague and undefined in comparison.

      • December 18, 2009 at

        Thanks Joar.

      • December 19, 2009 at

        It's interesting how subjective it is to describe tone, meaning each person has their own way. It's difficult to "standardize" it. And then there is the "feeling" of one sound over another as you play it, not just hear it. The Selmer "feels" tight, and to you it sounds vague. To me it sounds "too focused", like a laser, instead of a widening flashlight.

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