Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
When one hangs out with classical clarinetists the subject of a clarinet sound having a "ring" often comes up. Typically, this word is not used that much among saxophonists. I've been thinking about this -- especially, in light of the relationship between the ringing quality in a clarinet's sound and its amount of projection. Simply put, are there ways to enhance a ringing quality in a saxophone sound and can this ring actually increase one's projection?

As I've written before, I hear a "ring" in the sound of my 1934 Buescher New Aristocrat. I do not hear this tonal quality in any True Tone or Aristocrat I've played....only the New Aristocrat. I'm most curious why this is. Several other sax players on the Forum who have a New Aristocrat have written to me and said the same thing about their horns. Besides that, I've been focusing my ears on this ringing quality and seeing what I can to do enhance it. I've discovered that the large round chamber of my Morgan 6C, the use of thick cut reeds (for a stronger tonal core), placing my lower lip at the fulcrum point where the reed separates from the facing curve of the mouthpiece, and using a string ligature all combine to help to bring out this tonal quality. I've also found that I get more ring if no mouthpiece patches are used.

I've also noticed that the sound of my NA projects in a rather different way from my sax buddies using high baffle metal mouthpieces. My NA projects a DARK, thick sound through a big band and fills up the performance space. On the other hand, I've noticed that some high baffle mouthpieces sound loud in the immediate area but if one goes to the back of the hall you'll discover the sound drops.

With this in mind, I've been thinking about classical clarinet sound projection and how it might help me to get more projection and resonance on saxophone.

Any insights?

Roger
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009-
Joined
·
2,759 Posts
Great subject, Roger. I love a "ringing" clarinet; I don't enjoy a "breathy" or "spitty" sound. But what I like to hear in a saxophone would probably better be described as "edge". I used to think edge meant high baffle/small chamber but recently I've been playing on a round chambered Bill Street HR which seems to have plenty of punch. The sound I don't care for on sax is that sort of Frankie Trumbauer "hollow" tone (nothing against his musicianship). Okay, plenty of descriptive words here — ring, edge, hollow — so it can't hurt to introduce another one; Hank Mobley described his tone as "round". It's definitely mellower than some of the other guys in the hard bop school. And now something else comes to mind — listening to recorded music, listening live in the audience, or listening to yourself as you play; the sound will be perceived differently in each case. It gets more and more difficult to nail down these terms with precision, yet, on a gut level, I think I know what you mean!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Yes, I have an idea of what you mean.

Over the past couple of years I've worked to smooth the edge from my tenor sound. Even with a Morgan 6L there was a touch of edge that bothered me. With the 6C the sound I get is clear and very round..."thick"...and vibrant.

Just recently I dusted off my Morgan 6EL and tried it with the string ligature. Man, it was LOUD...really loud...with the Klassik ligature. But, the quality of sound felt all wrong to me. It didn't have the thick roundness with no edge that I love so much about the 6C. When I switched back to my 6C it as like "Ahhh.....".

I've also been thinking about this subject since I started using Walter Grabner Kaspar-style clarinet mouthpieces. With the Kaspar design I get a ringing tonal quality that I did not have with other clarinet mouthpieces. With a Kaspar I'm able to have a richly dark, fat ("thick"), ringing sound that projects beautifully. Man, it's the clarinet sound of my dreams. The cool thing about this for me is it's along similar lines as the dark, fat, ringing sound that I'm striving to have on tenor.

I've definitely gone over to the Dark Side!

Roger
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,305 Posts
Yes, the ring...or "ping" as I call it. A subtle high overtone above a dark, full fundimental. Without it a clarinet sounds "unfocused" "dull" and worse than all..."wooly."

Projecting on a clarinet, in my experience is a little different than saxophone. I play fairly open mouthpieces on saxophone to aid in projection. But on clarinet I find that closed tips/hard reeds produce a more projecting voice because the "ping" is more pronounced.

I remember purchasing an RM28 clarinet mouthpiece with the idea that I could play louder with it. Definately not the case. With a soft reed I could put as much air into it as a soprano sax and blast away. But it lacked enough ring to truely carry to the back of the hall. The smaller tipped RM15 had more ring. But an even smaller tipped Vandoren M15 & M30 with a pretty strong reed proved to be the more projecting piece simply because of the pronounced ring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,293 Posts
I think about the "ring" of my tone a lot on sax. when I explain this to my students and try to get them to hear the "ring" in the sound, I usually get blank stares...

I would prefer more "ring" and less "ving" in my sound though...


ving
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,246 Posts
Not sure that I really understand what 'ring' is but I saw an interview where Harold Ashby described Ben Websters sax playing as "you know.....it had that rannnnng in the middle of it"

Would his sound reflect the ring you talk of? I guess you would have to look past his breathy ballads..or would you? can it still come out?
Saxlicker
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009-
Joined
·
2,759 Posts
From what I understand, the acoustic peculiarity of the clarinet derives from its having the least harmonics and partials of all the wind instruments, much less than the typical saxophone. My partially educated guess would be that in order to approximate the classical clarinet "ring" on the sax the player would first need a horn which is heavier rather than light. The mouthpiece would be low-baffled, with a round chamber, large but not "magnum". The tip opening and reed strength would be moderate so as not too require extreme air pressure or excessive fussiness about embouchure. Then the player would practice lots of long tones, perhaps visualizing his air stream as a solid cone centered between the walls of the horn. It would be nice to illustrate this with some sound clips but I doubt my computer speakers are up to the job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
The sensation of a tone colour is not easy to describe - and not easy to discus without hearing it. I have some strange experience on sax projection, by listening to my son playing an 271k Aristo alto. He had for some years the first solo alto chair in a full symphonic band, and had a hard time trying to project his solos on top of the band. After trying all types of mouthpieces all the way up to the screaming Runyon XL, he ended up with a small round chamber Selmer classic metal D – which I bought in the early 1960s. With this piece he could float on top of the band and be heard all the way to the last row with a pure classical tone colour. He has also used this combination playing all by him self in the church. The sound could be heard as a strong, clear and pure tone in all parts of the church, but when you hear the sound close up you can not tell that it has this strong projection. A strong projection is after this a mystery to me
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Shotgun,

Great message!

This is EXACTLY what I did -- with a lot of trial & error and following my intuition -- to match together each part of my set up and arrive at the kind of sound that really does it for me.

For example, I discovered a Morgan 6 (.090 on tenor) is just the right point of balance for me between tonal quality, power, and control. Trying a smaller tip and a stiffer reed didn't work as well. Conversely, trying a larger tip and a softer reed didn't either. 6 was just right -- especially, with the large round chamber and low baffle of the Morgan C. Same thing with reed strength. I went through #2.25 to #3.5 Legere reed strengths on various mouthpiece facings and found I get the best quality of sound with a #2.5 on a Morgan 6 facing. (A #2.5 regular cut Legere tends to play like a #3+ cane reed.) Thus, everything that I settled on is middle-of-the-road.

One thing I'd add to your list is using a thick cut saxophone reed. For me, a thick cut reed -- having a lot of "wood" in the heart -- plays a large role in getting a ringing tonal quality. It also gives me a stronger tonal core. This is very similar to using a Morre-style thick cut reed on clarinet.

Then, the last thing is having the bottom lip at the fulcrum point on the reed. This plays a large role as well in allowing the reed to vibrate in an optimal way. If a small amount of mouthpiece is taken into the mouth it can effectively choke one's sound and reduce the level of resonance. Some players compensate by using stiffer reeds or larger tips. In my trial & errors I found that if I take in a lot of the mouthpiece in this way -- as recommended to me by Ralph Morgan -- I can get a big sound and a lot of projection without having to use a large tip opening. This has made a big difference for me and, for that reason, I mention it from time-to-time in mouthpiece discussions.

PS... Tore, the Selmer metal D mouthpiece that you describe is what Joe Viola used. At least, that's what Joe used when I studied with him. Marcel Mule used a similar Selmer metal mouthpiece but I'm not sure if he used a D. It has more of a horseshoe-shaped chamber. You're absolutely right. With some mouthpieces one can have a feeling of not being loud enough from where they are sitting. But, if a friend walks to the back of the performance space he will find the sound projects beautifully all the way back.

Roger
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,767 Posts
Man, this thread really makes me want to order a nice Grabner or Fobes Kaspar-styled clarinet mouthpiece. I can't do that, guys!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
dirty said:
Man, this thread really makes me want to order a nice Grabner or Fobes Kaspar-styled clarinet mouthpiece. I can't do that, guys!

You could always just slap a 5 on a tiny yamaha 4c clarinet mouthpiece - sadly, the only one I have at the moment, not that I play clarinet that much. Of course, all I have are 2.5s for it...
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,767 Posts
Martinman said:
You could always just slap a 5 on a tiny yamaha 4c clarinet mouthpiece - sadly, the only one I have at the moment, not that I play clarinet that much. Of course, all I have are 2.5s for it...
Man, I ain't usin' no Yamaha! I A-B'd my old Fobes NOVA (inexpensive student mouthpiece) today against my main mouthpiece, a Borbeck (handmade professional mouthpiece). After playing the Fobes, I was suddenly very happy with my tone on the Borbeck. Nice ring, full tone, good projection, good intonation and smooth connections. I think that might have more to do with me listening to Robert Marcellus's recording of the Mozart clarinet concerto all day almost nonstop. Except for the time I spent downtown watching Richard Stolzman and the SF Symphony. Basically, watching, listening and emulating is better than any mouthpiece, reed or ligature.


Of course, for a fair comparison, I would need to get a Fobes San Francisco model to try...but no! I'm only just now (18 months after buying it) learning how to actually play the Borbeck. I'm not going through that again with a new mouthpiece, no matter how good it is. Not now, at least.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Great Bloke.
Joined
·
2,968 Posts
Roger,
My 270K tenor, Series I has that ring you refer too. I can also achieve it on my 290K alto without much effort.

I have also found it on the occasional Conn tranny model sax too plus the Magna series of Martin saxes. I have also found it on 1921 Conn curved Sop and on my current taiwanese Gold Plated Saxello.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,960 Posts
my buescher silver tt and my former (ouch!) gold plated bal-act alto are the only saxes that have that ring to their sound
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
800 Posts
The ring I have heard adds projection I think or "Presence" to a sound in a sax. I have heard it, never called it ringing but that is as a good a description as any.

Caravans have that pronounced ring over a Rascher in Classic sax MPs.
Too much ring and I think the richness of tone gets lost.

I don't know if it comes from a squeezed throat or the baffle height, but from looking at the mp I have that ring more than others I would suspect it's the squeezed throat more than the baffle height, it could be from the roll over in the baffle too as that is a way to add presence to a sax mp.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,404 Posts
shotgun said:
From what I understand, the acoustic peculiarity of the clarinet derives from its having the least harmonics and partials of all the wind instruments, much less than the typical saxophone.
I read the clarinet's cylindrical bore suppresses all overtones with an odd number of vibrations, while the conical bore of the sax and oboe families allow both odd and even-numbered vibrations to coexist in a note. Not sure how much this has to do with a "ringing" tone, but it's a nice explanation of the extreme difference in timbres between saxophones and clarinets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,877 Posts
Close but not quite it. The clarinet's approximate cylinder bore makes the odd harmonics of a note much more prominent: 1F, the fundamental; 3f, the twelth (octave + a fifth); 5f, two octaves + a major 3rd, etc. So if you play a C1 you get strong harmonics of a G2 and an E3 for example which suggests a C major chord. This C major sound IMO is what gives it that ring.

Besides these overtones a sax will produce strong C2 and C3 harmonics which tend to overwhelm the G2 and E3 so you have less of a Cmajor sound.

Clarinets are not perfect cylinders so they produce small amounts of the even harmonics.

There may be nomenclature confusion because the 2nd harmonic (2f, the octave) is called the 1st overtone by some.

For the sake of completeness, cylindrical flutes produce even and odd harmonics because they have openings at both ends of the tube.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,544 Posts
Roger Aldridge said:
One thing I'd add to your list is using a thick cut saxophone reed. For me, a thick cut reed -- having a lot of "wood" in the heart -- plays a large role in getting a ringing tonal quality. It also gives me a stronger tonal core. This is very similar to using a Morre-style thick cut reed on clarinet.
...interesting thread...I have finally started closing in on my mouthpiece GAS with one simple change. I realized (like you) that I like this same style of reed...I have standardized on a single brand/strength reed and am whittling down to a set of mouthpieces that match that reed type. e.g. on tenor, I have found that I like the response from RJS 2H filed and this has narrowed me to mouthpieces with medium facings (.105-.110), medium baffles and large chambers (like Barone Hollywood and Florida Links). Same with bari...oddly, also RJS 2H filed and same tip openings, but medium chambers like Yani metal and Lamberson M.

Question: What are the choices for 'thick heart' cuts? These are the ones I am familiar with:
Sax: RJS, VD V16 & ZZ, Alexander (all?)
Clarinet: VD V12, other?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
For clarinet I'd add Gonzales F.O.F. and VD 56 Rue as being thick cut reeds...also the VD Black Master reed.

I don't think of VD V16 or ZZ as being thick cut at all. They are definitely on the thin side!...having a thinner profile than VD Traditional. Alexander Classique has a really nice thick cut profile. The Gonzales saxophone reed is also worth a try. A good rule of thumb to follow regarding saxophone reeds is those that have more of a classical reputation normally have a thicker cut in the heart.

I've never used RJS so I can't help with that.

The Legere regular cut saxophone reed I use is based on the Vandoren Traditional reed and the Legere Quebec clarinet reed is based on the old Morre reed. This is according to Guy Legere.

Roger
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top