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Clarinets

MBSLynne 20 Jun 07 - 08:48 AM
Leadfingers 20 Jun 07 - 09:07 AM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jun 07 - 09:15 AM
Jack Campin 20 Jun 07 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 20 Jun 07 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,Neovo 20 Jun 07 - 10:38 AM
The Sandman 20 Jun 07 - 11:31 AM
MBSLynne 20 Jun 07 - 01:31 PM
Bill D 20 Jun 07 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Jun 07 - 02:31 PM
JohnInKansas 20 Jun 07 - 02:34 PM
MBSLynne 20 Jun 07 - 03:09 PM
Jack Campin 20 Jun 07 - 03:44 PM
MBSLynne 20 Jun 07 - 04:17 PM
Bill D 20 Jun 07 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,Neovo 21 Jun 07 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 21 Jun 07 - 03:33 AM
The Borchester Echo 21 Jun 07 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Neovo 21 Jun 07 - 04:05 AM
Jack Campin 21 Jun 07 - 05:15 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 21 Jun 07 - 06:40 AM
MBSLynne 21 Jun 07 - 07:58 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 22 Jun 07 - 06:38 AM
Jack Campin 22 Jun 07 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 22 Jun 07 - 07:12 AM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 14 - 01:22 AM
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Subject: Clarinets
From: MBSLynne
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 08:48 AM

I have just been given two clarinets. They aren't in brilliant condition, though one is better than the other. They're both made by Jerome Thibouville Lamy. One looks pretty old and is made of wood. The joints are very loose and I don't think it has been played for a long time. The better one isn't wood I don't think, and has a reed with it, though I can only barely get a sound out of it.

I play recorder but have never actually blown a clarinet.

Any advice or info?

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 09:07 AM

I am an ex player (Though I DO still have one that's not been released from its case for YEARS) but am NOT familiar with the make !IF all the parts are there , reconditioning would probably be worth while from a profit on resale point of view !


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 09:15 AM

JTL was a firm of French instrument manufacturers of some repute at the end of the 19th/early 20th centuries.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 09:23 AM

You need to take them to a competent repairer to get any leaks fixed. The pads will probably have dried out and warped, and the joints will need to be recorked or rewound with thread.

Start with a soft reed, like a no.1, and read a general book on clarinet technique.

Orchestral clarinets aren't in handy keys for most British Isles folk music. If one of the instruments is in A, focus on that one. If they're both in B flat you won't be playing alongside fiddlers any time soon.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 09:36 AM

They will probably be rather dodgy in tuning if they are very old- the frequency standard A440 didn't come into widespread use until between the wars. B flat is ideal for Klezmer, though a lot of people play C clarinets as you can get the soaring high notes. But that's a long way down the line if you are only just starting.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 10:38 AM

Sorry - did it again! If they are that old I would recommend you seek advice from your repairer before spending a lot of money on them. As Guest Paul Burke suggests, even if nominally in B flat they may be in "old", that is high pitch and incompatible with modern low pitch instruments. Get them checked out before spending any money. If you can barely get a sound out that could indicate major leaks = much money.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 11:31 AM

I played as part of a folk duo,with a clarinet player,she had an A and a B flat,she[sue miles]used the B flat more frequently.the keys we played in were f, g, d, a,c.
her excellent clarinet playing can be heard on the Dunmow Flitch[Someone was selling a vinyl copy on e bay last week]Cheating the Tide[This one normally fetches more].apart from being a good folk player she also had Grade 8,classical,so could play with ease in any key.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: MBSLynne
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 01:31 PM

Well my learning will have to wait a while then as there's no way I can afford to spend ANY money on them at present. I can see that the pads need replacing.

I have no intention of selling them Terry! Our instrument collection is short of clarinets! One day I'll get them sorted and play them. They are beautiful instruments even as they are...especially the one I think is older.

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 01:45 PM

I played for many years when young. *IF* the pads that cover the holes are ok...and *IF the cork where the sections slide together are ok, then you can try it. The cork needs 'occasional' cork grease...comes in a little tin and is cheap...any music store. Get a couple light reeds..1 or 1½, as said above.

Now...be warned...clarinet requires getting used to, as the lower lip is pressed against the lower teeth, and the mouth can get tired....but this is not a big deal just to see if it will play.

I, personally, would take the instruments to some local player and have them evaluated....a school might know a teacher.

Unlike recorder..(which I have played for many years)...clarinets are not so easily learned on your own. There is much practice in embrochure,(holding your mouth right) fingering,(covering ALL the holes properly) and breath control.

All that being said, we have a woman in our folk circle who plays clarinet with us a lot, and makes it work beautifully.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 02:31 PM

Where have they been kept? Are they all dried out? Do they need oiling or breaking in? You don't want to try playing them till you know.

I would take them to a knowledgeable person and ask if they can be safely played. If they can, I would pad the pads with something (blue Scotch brand masking tape, maybe) and see how they sound.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 02:34 PM

If they are early 20th century or before, there is the possibility that they're an earlier key system that should NOT be foisted off on a modern student, especially a beginner who wouldn't know the difference. Fingerings for a few notes can be somewhat different, and a student shouldn't have to learn obsolete ones. The clarinets may still be usable by a casual player who doesn't intend to "study" at it.

Comparison with a currently "modern" clarinet to see where the keys/holes/rings are located could be done by any reasonably informed player, with a modern insrument for comparison.

The "loose joints" would likely be easily remedied by new "corks" at the joints, and might even be helped by a liberal application of "cork grease" if they've been without lubrication for a fairly long time.

A "looks like wood but isn't" would likely be a "resonite" (plastic) material that didn't appear in very common use until ca 1955 or later, so the key system probably would be "modern" although it should still be verified.

A clarinet that hasn't been used for a year or more most likely should have a complete "re-pad" which is a simple, but time-consuming, repair. You need a player sufficiently practiced to tell you if it's playable as is, since an unpracticed player won't be likely to know the difference between "skill failure" and "leaky pads." The cost of getting a re-pad done can range from "reasonable" to "ya' gotta be kidding me."

For a casual player who just wants to "play along with the gang" the different tunings can be accomodated to some extent by simply not fully seating the mouthpiece in the neck, or not fully seating the neck on the upper body, either of which will lower the pitch. Concert orchestra players at high-school and semi-professional levels commonly use one clarinet with interchangeable neckpieces, one for Bb and one for A, with satisfactory results, so "tweaking" the tuning should work just fine for the difference between an old "high A" instrument and a "modern A" one. (You will need a good "cork" at the joint where you make the adjustment, so that the parts stay where you put them.)

Always be sure to thoroughly "wet" the reed before beginning to play. Experienced players usually just "slobber it up" but for a beginner dropping the reed (removed from the mouthpiece) in a cup of water for a few minutes usually will suffice.

Also be aware that although the teeth support the lip that controls the reed, you should avoid "biting down" to get your tone. You can end up with a badly mangled (and very tender) lip if you allow the "bite" habit to develop. Lip muscle tension will do it, once you figure out how.

John


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: MBSLynne
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 03:09 PM

Thanks for all the advice.

I'm not going to be studying it seriously and the chances are I won't even be playing along with anyone else, certainly for quite a while. It will probably be just playing for my own enjoyment, so the fingering won't matter if it's the old style. I've thought of two people I know who, though clarinet is not their first instrument, probably know enough about them to have a look and make suggestions.

I understand about the reed bit as my son plays oboe and I have a bombarde (which I STILL can't really play!).

My son reckons the newer of the two is wood as well. He can see a grain. They have probably just been kept in a cupboard and they don't have cases. The person who has given them to me "Bought them at a sale years ago" and I don't think he's ever played them.

I'm in love with them already. Unfortunately it's the older one which, even to my inexperienced eye looks as though it may not ever really be playable, that I like best. We shall see....

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 03:44 PM

The modern Boehm system is not necessarily better than the older Albert one. For kinds of music where you may need to do a lote of pitch-bending - klezmer, New Orleans trad jazz, Turkish music - the Albert is invariably preferred. Albert instruments are also lighter; a classical player won't be slogging away with the instrument held straight out for an hour at a stretch, a folk player might well need to do that.

I have four clarinets in different pitches and no two have the same design of keywork - three different variants of the Albert system and one modern Boehm. It's no big deal to switch. The really subtle one gives me both a just intonation D sharp and an E flat - there are two keys positioned not quite opposite each other. Try that on a Boehm!

One warning. Orchestral and jazz music for clarinet is written transposed - they print a C and you get a B flat (or A) when you do the fingering they suggest. Almost all the instructional materials work that way. For playing Western folk music or Middle Eastern or Eastern European music, this approach is a disaster, since virtually none of the stuff you'll want to play is available in transposed form. You have to learn to use the same sheets of paper as the fiddlers and flute players, unless you want to spend the rest of your life sitting in a corner writing out transpositions while everybody else is playing away without you. I can sightread at pitch for three different pitches of clarinet (G, C and B flat) - it isn't that difficult. If you've already learned both C and F recorders you'll have the idea. (I also have a C sharp clarinet, i.e. a C clarinet in some old pitch standard. That one I just play by ear).


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: MBSLynne
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 04:17 PM

I play far more by ear than I do from music anyway so that's probably not a problem. I just wish I could start now and not have to wait!

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 06:24 PM

Most wood clarinets are made of African Blackwood..Dalbergia nigra, which is a cousin in the Rosewood family. It is a fairly stable wood and highly prized for flutes, clarinets and other woodwinds...unlike Ebony, Diospyros spp., which is much harder to season and control cracking.

I think you have a nice find, Lynne, whether you ever play them or not. If they are intact and not damaged, they can most likely be restored and well worth having.

Have fun experimenting!


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 03:31 AM

The word for the way you use your mouth is embouchure - from the french for mouth.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 03:33 AM

Just get hold of Noteworthy, copy the music out, and let it automatically transpose for you. We used that approach for the New Mills klez sessions.

Lynne, most of the difficulty of clarinet playing is in the crossover between the registers- it's not an octave, it's a twelfth, so the fingerings for the high notes are different from the low notes. get that bit right, and you've made it (apart from reed control of course!).


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 03:35 AM

Yes, I think embrochure describes the process of trying to eat bread at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 04:05 AM

Or a rather pungent muscle rub for horses and rugby players?


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 05:15 AM

Entering a tune into a score program takes far longer than simply reading it. There are about 50 tunes on Paul's klezmer site, against 1000 in Raven, 1001 in O'Neill and 2000 in Kerr's.   Getting dependent on transposed music is a real timewaster.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 06:40 AM

Makes no difference to me, Jack, I don't read music, so i have to do it by ear. But it meant I could learn tunes off a CD, and write them out for others to play from because Noteworthy can play it back to make sure I've got it right. And several of the players in the session were clarinet beginners, and couldn't transpose, and they liked it in a key they could read. BTW most of the Manchester Klezmer tunes were written out by Steve Landin using Mozart.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: MBSLynne
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 07:58 AM

If I play from music, which, for me is a fairly slow thing as I don't do it often so don't get much practice, I find I tend to stick totally to what is written, but if I play something by ear I can embroider it, play about with it and do it the way I want to. In the last year or two I've started playing in sessions occasionally and I've found that the ability to play by ear is extrememly useful. I can often play a tune I've never heard before once I've listened through it once. I think it makes you hear the patterns in the music which you do less if you rely on written music. This may all be different for those who have had lessons, but as I'm mostly self-taught it works well for me. And playing by ear in sessions has improved my ear-playing rapidly and a lot.

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 06:38 AM

Regarding the variability of pitch, the table about a quarter of the way down this Dolmetsch music theory page gives some idea how it has changed over the years. Generally orchestral pitch has drifted up; Mozart's E flat is only a little above our D. But British military bands generally played almost a semitone above A440, and you have to be very careful when buying old simple flutes that they are not in this pitch. Unless of course you want a flute to play along with the whizkids who tune their fiddles to E flat. I have a lovely old wooden Ruddall Carte 1867 system flute, but sadly about half a semitone high in tuning.

I've often wondered, in the light of this, how keys can be said to have individual "characters".


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 06:48 AM

The character of a key is determined by what an instrument has to do to get the notes in it - play in D on a fiddle and you have four open strings available, play in D on a Baroque flute and you need no crossfingerings. Play in A flat and you have only the G open on a fiddle and lots of crossfingered notes on the flute, everything sounds more muted. What the absolute pitch might be is irrelevant.

On an organ or piano there is much less difference.


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 07:12 AM

I agree with that Jack, but not everyone does. Here's what one writer thought. Given the drift upwards of tunings since then, their "Triumph over difficulty, free sigh of relief utered when hurdles are surmounted; echo of a soul which has fiercely struggled and finally conquered" becomes "Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,--in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart".


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Subject: RE: Clarinets
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 14 - 01:22 AM

For those of us who can't afford to pay for a clarinet, here's how to make a clarinet out of a carrot:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/BISrGwN-yH4


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