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How to articulate smoothly and correctly?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ClarinetBeginner, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Hey. I've noticed that when I tongue, especially on higher notes, I can hear a little 'ta' sound of my tongue as it's striking and leaving the reed. This is quite annoying, especially when I'm playing softly. Any tips?
  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    I was hoping that one of the experts would weigh in. I do have a question before I make suggestions, as I can not listen to the sound myself. Is there an instructor that you could work with? Helping you from afar is very challenging. There is nothing like a personal coach to make solid and fast improvement.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    One thing to keep in mind is what you are hearing might not be audible to those who are listening. Things like breath noise, key noise and the like are very audible to you, but they are subject to the same inverse square law as is all noise - sound levels drop off rapidly over distance.

    Of all of the clarinet, flute, saxophone and oboe music that I have listened to, even in recordings that were miked close and tight, I have never heard any of these noises that are so obvious to me when I am playing. Over the years, I've learned to just stop worrying.

    None of this applies to bassoon playing, of course. The long "clapper-style" keys on the long joint and bell are noisy as hell, and key noise shows up on many recordings of the faggot variety. I have one of a bassoon quintet over in Germany, and they play a lot of very fast stuff (like Czardas, arranged for solo violin and the five bassoons playing a very clever Wagner-themed accompaniment). The key noise on that one sounds like a platoon of excellent touch typists, all working like mad on old Remington upright typewriters.

    And, this brings me to a new problem. The latest version of the Selmer bass clarinet has one or two "clapper style" keys on the lower joint. Another potential noise source...shame on you, Selmer - what were you thinking?
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  4. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I am primarily a saxophonist who doubles on clarinet who has the same challenge articulating notes in the high register to make them sound good. More often than not I will use a breath entrance on the note (I hate the word "attack"). Hopefully one of the advanced clarinetists on the forum will weigh in with some advice.

    One of the techniques I use with beginning players to teach tonguing is to have them blow an airstream into the mouthpiece below the level that makes the reed vibrate and to touch the tip of the reed with the portion of the tongue just behind the tip. The tst, tst, tst, tst, sound that is made lets me know they have the placement and movement of the tongue correct and then I have them increase the air volume while doing the same tongue movement to produce a full tone.

    You might try this exercise making the tst, tst, tst, sound as soft and light as possible to see if that helps. It is also important to remember that tonguing involves the tongue pulling away from the reed (like spitting a piece of lint off the tip of your tongue) rather than going up an hitting the reed. Hope this helps. I have a lot to learn about this aspect of clarinet paying myself.
  5. I do have a instructor, but unfortunately he is away overseas for 1 month.
  6. Thanks for the reply, after some testing with my friends, it turns out that what I'm hearing is insignificant to the ears of my audience.:)
  7. This is a good exercise for me, I have been doing it at the start of practice everyday, and it works well on perfecting my articulation.
    Thanks a bunch.
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