SOUND LIBRARY FOR CLARINET AND BASS CLARINET

 

Introduction

I developed this small project during my traineeship (Erasmus Placement) in contemporary music performance and interpretation at the Stuttgart Hochmusikschule in 2017. In that period I was available to every composition student both as a performer and as a supporting musician for a more precise and skillful writing for clarinet solo. At that time I created this sound library which includes many of the conventional (or not) instrumental techniques for clarinet and bass clarinet.

Differently from many similar Sound Libraries which focus on contemporary music techniques, where effects are extremely well catalogued as very precise and closed containers (although they often sound unnatural and mechanical in their unfolding) this very short sound library, which of course is not complete nor completely satisfying, is  entirely based on short improvisations and constant cooperation with the composers involved. Rather than researching new sounds through extremely technically detailed practice in solipsism, many of the sounds I created were actually “discovered” through that free expression that can be only found both in free improvising and in working together with skillful, free-minded, curious composers.

Even if this project is particularly "free",  I definitely  tried to collect the materials in a clear way, so that both instrument players and composers could easily follow my “sound path”, hoping this project to be considered (if not at the highest quality of playing), at least very useful for clarinet daredevils, young composers and improvisers, most of all.

In this Sound library you will soon realize that many kinds of sound are being performed, from the more skillful, complex and mysterious colours to the more weird if not comic gestures. Many of the effects which are performed on the b flat clarinet can be transposed on the bass clarinet, and the other way around. The audio files are very short and, with some exceptions, not fully developed. They work more as small ideas for young classical music performers than for already skillful contemporary music players. They leave the listener free to imagine different ways of performing and improvising them with several other combinations of effects. No preparation of the instrument has been used. For special fingering, you can contact me directly.

Finally, I want to clarify that none of the audio material has been electronically manipulated anyway but for short fade ins and outs. No room-noise has been deleted, no reverb has been added.  I made this decision for several reasons: most of the recorded sounds had a high noise presence; cleaning the audios would have meant to de-naturalize and falsify all of them. This way all the sounds,  from the softest colors to the highest and fiercest peaks cen be listened as in a natural “big room environment” and clearly perceived as in a “live” performance, both for solos or in ensembles. I strongly recommend to use a good pair of earphones or a stereo system.

All the files were recorded by a Zoom Recorded H4N, in stereo, in two similar rooms of the electronic music department of the Stuttgart’s Music Academy.

Here I want to thank the composers:

Marco Stroppa and Marco Bidin for their big help .

Brian Questa, Jialin Liu, Marko Mrdja for their artistic collaboration which has  really helped me in the good outcome of this project.

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Here a short description of the content of the most interesting playlists.

FOR ALL THE AUDIO FILES PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY

HUMMING AND GROWLING:

Two of the most underrated techniques for wind instruments. Humming means basically singing while playing, and growling works likely with shouting. Growling is not usually used in classical music but it is very common in some folk music like kletmzer and balcanic music. I recommend to listen to Gioria Feidman to get the idea of the power that growling can produce. Humming, instead, is usually softer and in tune. It can be both consonant and dissonant and ,depending on that, it produces clearly earable vibrations. A real "choral" can be actually produced with humming with enough exercise. It usually works better if the clarinet sound is lower than the voice and if both are in the same middle-low register. Humming can be combined with throat flatterzung, for a harsher result. Humming and growling are very similar and they can be combined in a very flexible way.

HARMONICS, NATURAL OVERTONES, UNDERTONES, MULTIPHONICS

This chapter could be endless. Multiphonics techinques on clarinet are so wide that books are already filled with fingerings. Most of the known books, though, are referring to an '80s clarinet with some differences in fingering, so most of the fingerings are useless now ( both for the french and the german system). I always recomend composers to directly work with instrument players and do not follow books by the rules. 

 I tried to be short and to divide the techniques in clear categories.

-Overblowing (spectrum explosion): you can hear the coloumn of harmonics starting from a ground lower note. It is usually performed in F/FF but it can also be quite controlled in P.The fingering used is just the lower ground note. Lower the ground note better the result. On bflat clarinet it works properly from low E to a fifth up, more or less. It will produce only an harmonic fifth in the the middle register.

-Underblowingbasically the opposite. the fingering is the natural position for the upper note and the clarinet player "makes space" for the lower sound. it is not such a difficult techniques, but it is not flexible. It can be performed only in PP/MP. Underblowing bichords are clearly used in Grisey: Charme.

-Artificial multiphonics based on a natural position plus the C sharp key or the E flat key:  they are a few but very precise and simple to do. The examples are a sort of "how to" (the first note you hear is the natural fingering on which you add Eflat or Csharp). Probably the easiest multiphonics to produce.

Artificial bichordsthose are very peculiar. Very sweet and clear in tuning, but very difficult to create.They are not flexible at all, and are performed just from PPP to MP. Every one of them needs a special fingering. For further information you can contact me directly or I suggest you to look up on the net for Multhiphonics database for clarinet.

BISBIGLIANDI: very strange and totally flexible technique. Usually performed in PP/P dynamics. It is a sort of fast fingering techniques that makes the sound mumble. The fingering is usually decided by the performer, because it is often very easy and it has many ways to work. It is usually performed in a very clear way where the sound is just slightly moved up or down a quarter tone or less, but the possibilities of bisbigliando are wider. It can also be used as a way to break the sound and get to the upper harmonics, which will not be in tune at all, creating a misterious, soflty moving atmosphere.

TREMOLOS: in some ways they are similar to the bisbigliando when it is used to get to some harmonics, but technically it is made out of a trill of intervals larger than the tone. Clear examples of this technique can be found in Sciarrino's pieces: "Let Me Die Before I Wake" and " Altre Scheggie di Canto".

DIFFERENT TONGUINGS: I do not focus on basic tongue techniques but I give a few clear examples of some ways the tongue can be used in alternative ways in order to get different colours and articulation: Slapping in different dynamics; Hard tonguing (I mean tonguing with no blowing involved, but strong enough to make sound a chosen position) Finally ,the previous ones combined.

UNCONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES: this chapter was entirely created together with some composers. Many sounds will result vulgar or funny. Clarinet and bass clarinet here are used with no phisical or traditional boundaries: you will here the flute technique, the trumpet technique and, generally speaking, many ways to use clarinet without reed or even mouthpiece. Most of these effects can be very effective only if well amplified.

VARIOUS TECHNIQUES: I created this playlist only to include all the tehcniques which were not connected to the others I explained before. You can hear different kind of glissatos, circular breathing, flatterzung and echo sounds.