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Albert System Clarinet

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
OK, don't laugh. I'm playing in a Big Band, and my clarinet playing days are 20+ years behind me. When I did play clarinet, it was a bass clarinet. I have a Boehm system Bb clarinet, but honestly, I've never been good at navigating the keys on this small beast. Over the past year I've tried to relearn, but suck worse now than I did when I was in university--and I was bad then.

I thought I might give an Albert system horn a try. Since I'm having to try and relearn the little beast anyway (I remember almost none of the fingerings), perhaps this might be the way to go. Thoughts? Input? Terry?

Anyway, if anyone has a Bb Albert sitting around in their closet that they are no longer using that they'd like to part with please PM me, or post to the thread. Thanks.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I have never played an Albert system, so I can't comment on that. Just a thought - how about a plateau clarinet? I know folks say they can be stuffy sounding, but it might be good enough to get your technique back and then transition back to your Boehm.

Also, as a doubler playing mostly tenor and bari, I like a more open mouthpiece in a big band situation than when playing classical. It seems to make the quick switches easier. I had a Morgan RM 1.28 for a while, and then picked up the John Pierce piece, which is 1.40 mm. Nice big open sound. Not what you want for playing Mozart, but for Benny or Woody it's great. As a comparison, my classical piece is an old Woodwind Company G10, which is about 1.05 mm.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
The arrangement of the finger holes on an Albert may cause troubles for someone used to the Klose-Boehm instrument. I'd advise against purchase, but if you can borrow one for a trial, go ahead and see if it is suitable for your physical attributes.

Old folks (say over the age of fifteen) have much more trouble picking up on a now/novel system of fingering. As an example, I learned bassoon as a youngster, and both the Albert and Klose-Boehm systems before that. Flute, sax and Oehler came after the age of sixteen.

To to this day, I can pick up any one of the first three after a layoff of months or years, and be up to speed before my lip is ready to pick up the slack. By contrast, the latter three (and flute, and english horn) are the inverse arrangement - the lip is ready long before the fingers.

The difference is is apparently due to the learning process. Stuff learnt as a kid gets shoved into your hind brain, whereas stuff learnt as an adult goes into the "thinking" portions. You can reason your way through anything, but the processes stored in the hind brain (walking, speech, swallowing, early learning of fingering systems) is the stuff you can do "without thinking", or so neurologists have told me.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
There's also "muscle memory." In other words, you do an action over and over until it becomes automatic, but you need to know the right way how to do it, becuase unlearning is more difficult than learning.

I second saxhound's advice on the plateau (covered) keys if all you're having a problem with is just covering the holes. If you're having problems remembering the fingerings, that's a bit of a different thing: if you need to relearn all the fingerings, you could probably go with either fingering system. However, going with Terry's comment, you might start confusing yourself with the Boehm fingerings for things like :spaceb: flat and :Space1:. At least, I'd confuse them.

What about an EWI? I know you use some electronic effects and stuff. A lot of the flute and clarinet sounds I've heard are pretty decent. You'd also have the added bonus of not having your hed asplode when you hit :TrebleClef::Line5: 8va.

How many companies still sell Albert System horns?
 
... you might start confusing yourself with the Boehm fingerings for things like :spaceb: flat and :Space1:. At least, I'd confuse them.
You'd think so wouldn't you? In reality I don't find switching to be much of a problem. If I only play one for several weeks I make the odd mistake on switching but after 10 minutes or so it's all back to normal. I'm thinking here of an early clarinet rather than Albert System but it's much the same.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I think that you will find the little finger strategy on both the Albert and the Oehler to be substantially different from that on the Klose/Boehm. I always have recommended the Lazarus method book for its studies specifically designed to deal with the differences in that area of the horns. (Lazarus was an Albert player up to his death.)

As for a source for Albert"-esque" horns, Indian makers produce a near equivalent for very little money, easily found on eBay. Just don't get your hopes up for instrument quality or intonation.

And, muscle memory is just another term for the hind brain stuff. You may condition muscles to be stronger through use, but all of the "control" originates either in the "reasoning" portion of the brain (the "frontal lobes") or in the hind brain (the so-called "reptilian brain"for auto stuff like breathing, walking, the physical production of speech sounds, and early developed stuff like musical skills).

Every time when I take a break from music and then return, I am always amazed at how "the old stuff" comes right back.
 
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