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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

I've done a quick search of the forum and was surprised that I couldn't find anything on this topic, so I thought I'd pose the question... How can I get a good sound from the throat notes, if this is even possible?! I know these notes are notoriously difficult to get sounding good, but has anyone got any tips on how to make them sound better than they currently do? At the moment they sound quite 'nasally' and Bb (just below the break) is probably my least favourite note on the clarient!

Just to clarify, by throat notes I mean the notes from G to Bb just below the break.

Cheers,
SAM
 

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You can put down your right hand fingers to add more resonance and substance to them as they are by nature pretty weak tonally compared to notes that employ more tube length. And not only that, keeping your right hand fingers down also prepares you for playing intervals that cross over the break.

So while playing open G, keep your right hand fingers down on all their tonehole chimneys and the F/C key to see what difference it makes to the timbre of the open G, then add your left hand fingers plus the speaker key and you'll get the C over the break much smoother than if you played open G as a completely open note without keeping any fingers down, then plonking all your fingers on both hands down in one go for the C.

Now try the same with Ab-Db, A-E and Bb-Eb all repeated (and slowly at first, then gradually increase the speed) by keeping the necessary right hand fingers down not only to add resonance to the throat notes, but to make the leap smoother.

Jack Brymer's book (titled 'Clarinet') goes into detail about resonance fingerings and also preparing for intervals over the break. Well worth getting if you haven't already got it: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clarinet-Ye...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331677014&sr=1-1
 

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Make sure you are not trying to play the clarinet like a saxophone.
You need to have a firmer embouchure and you need to use your chin muscles to get the throat tones to speak.
It's well explained in this video:

http://www.ricoreeds.com/RicoMediaDetail.Page?MediaId=482

Throat Bb is probably the weakest sounding note on the clarinet. If you're not going into the clarion register, use the side key fingering for held notes, it's more in tune and less muffled.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Cheers for the thoughts and links guys, I shall take a look and get hold of that book. It's just one of those things that I suppose will get better with time and practice. I have never thought of resonance fingering before, so that's certainly something I'll try out, is it something that all clarinettists use when playing throat notes?

Sam Neal
 

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It's standard practice with many players and should be taught more once a clarinet player is learning to cross the break. It's something that will become automatic after you've consciously made an effort to incorporate it into your playing.

Similarly with saxes, open C# can be helped by keeping the RH fingers down plus the 8ve key and LH finger 3, this improves the tone and tuning of the open C# and makes C#-D smoother - you only need to lift and put down LH 1 and 2 for C#-D (and D-C#) while all the other fingers are held down.
 

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Which extra keys to put down varies fro different players and clarinets.

My preferences with my Yamaha are
  • For G, G#, A: add middle and ring fingers of left hand, and index and middle fingers of right hand.
  • For Bb: add the same fingers, and also ring finger of right hand.

Also, to make Bb as clear as possible:
  • Make sure the register key tone hole is clear of any deposits, especially fluff from an inappropriate pull-through.
  • Use a cork pad that is shaped to a decapitated cone or dome shape, so the air rushing in and out of the register tone hole has as little turbulence as possible as it rushes past the pad.
  • Bend the key if necessary to get a good pad opening, say 2.5 mm.
  • Don't play with an excessively hard reed.
 

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The key is your Open G. That is the most resonant note on the instrument. If you can play open G with a rich, full, resonant sound, the throat tones will in turn sound much better.

Adding fingers will help improve resonance...you'll have to experiment, as every clarinet is different. G#/Ab and A drastically improve in clarity with some fingers down.

Bb can have a tendency to be stuffy. Definitely check that the vent is clean.

There is truth to the hard reed thing. Again...they key is open G. You need a reed that will play open G easily, clear, strong, and resonant. If the reed is too hard, or your air support is weak, open G will be weak. Work slowly to match the openness of that G with Ab, then A, then Bb. All 4 of those notes should have the same clarity and power. Proper voicing, with the "eh" sound will also help (Tom Ridenour has a good brief instruction on that here: http://www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com/teach.htm).

All of the above, with the assumption your embouchure and air support are fine.

note: Throat Tone Bb tends to be the weakest note (or one of) on the instrument. Whenever possible, I use alternate fingerings (one I use often are modified versions of fingering 5/6 in this chart - http://www.wfg.woodwind.org/clarinet/cl_alt_1.html). You just need to experiment, as every clarinet is slightly different.
 

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Listen to some recordings and pick your, or your teachers idea, of a good sounding G-Bb and try to copy that sound by using the different methods. Just a thought. You should also have an idea of "what good sounds like."
 
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