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Discussion Starter #1
I've been unhappy with my tone for the past few months and I got this tip from a friend. He said to me that he practices long tones with different vowel sounds. He and I play polar opposite set ups.

He plays a late VI with a Guardala Hand made MBII with 3.5 V16 reeds. I play a Super Action 80 with an 8* link with Rico Jazz Select Filed 3H reeds. He does a lot more "corporate" and I was playing a lot of jazz and am now playing for a pop band.

He always says to me that he wishes he sounded darker, and I always say well: you're set up is pretty bright man! And I always say that I wish I was brighter and he said:

"John Stefulj (a former teacher of his) was always very big on being aware of your vowel sound. Consider you Ah Eh Ih Oh OOh's."

So I tried these out and after using the Ih vowel sound my sound started getting considerably brighter. He said he focuses on Oh's and Ooh's to warm up his sound.

Sure enough after doing this a few times, yesterday I had to represent my store at a masterclass run by Andrew Simon, (and let me say man that guy can really play the clarinet!!!) and he mentioned a similar thing to clarinet players participating in the masterclass, saying he uses NGGG as his "vowel sound" at times to try and help him project his throat notes and some of the higher notes.

Has anyone else done this sort of exercise?
 

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Experimenting with different vowels has been recommended to me by Thommy Inderbinen to shape my sound.
My current teacher Domenic Landolf (check him out! http://www.myspace.com/domeniclandolf) told me to use eee(or anything more closed) for low notes and oohh (or anything more open) for the high register. It really helps with response.
 

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Hm maybe the response thing applies more in the low register also allowing easier dynamics. I found that the overall sound was more balanced like that. On the other hand I've also heard people claim the opposite to be more helpful. It probably depends much on the player and his concept. "Whatever works"
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I also want to make the comment that I feel like I can hear different vowel sounds in players like Kenny Garret and Chris Potter. There are moments where you can hear EEE and AAA and OOOO particularly across sweeping passages. I was listening to Potter playing Train on Follow the Red Line, and he really seems to get like a AAAAAAOOOOEIIAA sort of sound and I find that makes his sound very complex!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
If you make an "nggg" sound, wouldn't you have to play with your nose?
A lot of the clarinet students were straining their throats open, and he was trying to get them to leave their throats relaxed and and to get their tongues as close to the roof of their mouths, I suspect. Aka taking EEEE to an extreme.

When i told him about practicing different vowels it he was very pleased that someone understood what he was getting at. But then told me that I should be playing classical clarinet, not jazz saxophone :p
 

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Was he working with the clarinetists in the altissimo range?
No clarinetist that I know of uses an EEEEE unless they're playing above C3.
Going to the extreme with this can backfire and cause the jaw to tighten up and biting insues.
Most of us use the UUU/OOO position for most all general playing and adjust to an AAA as we get closer to altissimo.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
He was using EEE for throat notes and altissimo, possibly to force air through faster in trouble areas of the clarinet. I found it very different. It seemed to work with the students. The other thing he was doing was pushing the clarinet further in the mouth and up to get the reed off of the bottom lip in some areas. It was very strange. But the guy could really play and he's the principal in the HK orchestra so I wasn't going to fight his expertise! Not only that, but it was all working!
 

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EEEE contricts and narrows the throat, AHHHH, or OOOh opens the throat.
Use them how your fancy dictates.
 

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I also want to make the comment that I feel like I can hear different vowel sounds in players like Kenny Garret and Chris Potter. There are moments where you can hear EEE and AAA and OOOO particularly across sweeping passages. I was listening to Potter playing Train on Follow the Red Line, and he really seems to get like a AAAAAAOOOOEIIAA sort of sound and I find that makes his sound very complex!
When I was finding my alto sound, I started hearing a common thread among many alto jazz tones. One piece of the sound that remained constant with many players. It can't be described but I picked up on it in Cannonball, Kenny Garrett, Vincent Herring, Phil Woods, Antonio Hart, Donald Harrison, Wessell Anderson, Jesse Davis, and Donald Harrison. Discovering that common thread and getting it in my ear automatically put my throat in the right position. No thinking about vowels or nothin'. So my advice is to listen to the players whose tones you like and try to identify that common thread through lots and lots of listening.

I don't really pay much attention to it, but I've been told that vowel shapes aren't exact. They get you in the neighborhood but some refinement still needs to be done. I've also been told that the French "eu" sound is better than "E", "O", or "U". It's kind of in between an "E" and a "U".
 

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I've been unhappy with my tone for the past few months and I got this tip from a friend. He said to me that he practices long tones with different vowel sounds. He and I play polar opposite set ups.

He plays a late VI with a Guardala Hand made MBII with 3.5 V16 reeds. I play a Super Action 80 with an 8* link with Rico Jazz Select Filed 3H reeds. He does a lot more "corporate" and I was playing a lot of jazz and am now playing for a pop band.

He always says to me that he wishes he sounded darker, and I always say well: you're set up is pretty bright man! And I always say that I wish I was brighter and he said:

"John Stefulj (a former teacher of his) was always very big on being aware of your vowel sound. Consider you Ah Eh Ih Oh OOh's."

So I tried these out and after using the Ih vowel sound my sound started getting considerably brighter. He said he focuses on Oh's and Ooh's to warm up his sound.

Sure enough after doing this a few times, yesterday I had to represent my store at a masterclass run by Andrew Simon, (and let me say man that guy can really play the clarinet!!!) and he mentioned a similar thing to clarinet players participating in the masterclass, saying he uses NGGG as his "vowel sound" at times to try and help him project his throat notes and some of the higher notes.

Has anyone else done this sort of exercise?
What the heck is a NGGG? How can that be a vowel sound when there are no vowels in it How do you pronounce it? I tried a few times but the N and G are two totally different shapes in the mouth and without a vowel how do you combine those shapes?
 

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Bandmommy, I know 2 very accomplished clarinetists (the only ones I've asked) who use EEE for clarinet, so that's what I've been using, too.

Neff, think like the "ng" in "ending." At least, that's what I thought when I read that. Sure enough, when I say "ing," right before the tongue closes off with the roof of the mouth, I get to the position I use for tenor, with the high point of the tongue being a bit further back than I have it on alto, and about where I like it on clarinet.
 

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Bandmommy, I know 2 very accomplished clarinetists (the only ones I've asked) who use EEE for clarinet, so that's what I've been using, too.

Neff, think like the "ng" in "ending." At least, that's what I thought when I read that. Sure enough, when I say "ing," right before the tongue closes off with the roof of the mouth, I get to the position I use for tenor, with the high point of the tongue being a bit further back than I have it on alto, and about where I like it on clarinet.
Ahhhh! Ok that makes sense. I was trying to pronounce N as in Nancy and put it with a G from George. Wasn't really working for me. Thanks.


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DAN---I DIG "FAVORITE SONG". GREAT PLAYING. The song is very Elvis Costello to me.... Is it an original?

I like it.
 

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I use Haa and Hoe vowel shapes throughout the range of the horn apart from when I get to altissimo C4 and above when I have to use Hee to get higher. If you keep everything as relaxed as possible and practice singing the notes as often as you can, you can train your voice to go from the Chest (normal) register into the Head (falsetto) register.
 

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The most difficult thing is to get the tongue high (ihhh or heee), and at the same time have an open throat and an a high soft palate.

[Holy mackeral, you guys are playing .115's with 3M and 3H!!!! You got chops of steel for sure!!!!!)
 

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In my previous life as a band director I worked with vowel sounds a lot to match the tonal color of the ensemble to the piece we were performing. The students were taught using simple warm up patterns, first to sing their part using the vowel sound, then to blow the part on their "tuned airstream", and finally to play the part on their instrument using the same throat shape and air stream. If you think it makes a difference with an individual's tone, you should hear the effect upon a 90 piece ensemble. These were 7th grade 2nd year band students who learned to do it beautifully, so it is not that difficult to master. My sales pitch to the students was that playing a musical instrument is just like singing, and the instrument is just an extension of your voice.
 
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