Saturday, March 6, 2010

Where the note ends

The last time I took clarinet lessons was in 1988, and it was with two good college professors who knew their stuff. More than 20 years later, I'm having the opportunity to study with a master musician, one of whose many talents is representing the sound of the clarinet to millions of television viewers. After hearing him on records since the 1970s, it was my first chance to see this guy (I haven't asked his permission to write about him so you'll have to guess) last month, where he was in the guitar player's group. I knew I was going to see a master sideman at work, but I had no idea how profound. He led the band without leading it and has an incredible musical partnership with the guitar player. Even better were his telegraphing of dynamics, harmonic cues and resonance. I can't begin to tell you what it is like to have a lesson with a master musician. Well, many people can tell a similar story I'm sure.
It's making me thing of resonance, which seems to have something to do with the origin of the sound, something you can have control over and even increase resonance.  On clarinet, it's a great thing to imagine. But strictly speaking, resonance, is how the note is ended. "Prolongation of sound by reflection or vibration of other bodies."
Nothing does this like a violin or drum, or a harp. The thing itself is vibrating, and some of those vibrations are going to be caught by the audience's eardrums. Resonance is going to happen.

 Listening to my clarinet teacher's sound on a couple of his latest CDs, there is a way to make the clarinet resonate, and he is doing it. I am hoping some of this great articulation is transferable!


I'm thinking about practicing diminuendo on clarinet. And how to make sure the note ends with resonance.

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