The Clarinet of Twenty-First Century - E. Michael Richards

CHAPTER 4 - Other Resources

Other Objects as Resonators

Different and provocative sounds may be created when other objects are placed in vibration by sounds from the clarinet. Some of these objects will only vibrate when set in motion by particular pitches of the clarinet; others will vibrate differently when generated by any of many possible clarinet sounds. This area has not been explored in depth by clarinetists or composers; the following examples merely touch the surface of options.

Setting the strings of the piano in vibration is one technique that has been employed by composers (one of the earliest examples occurred in Eonta by Xenakis). It is accomplished by playing the clarinet "into" the strings (with the bell at a distance of anywhere from 2 feet to practically resting on the strings) while the sustain pedal of the piano is depressed (Yamaha currently sells a wedge to hold the pedal in place!). This allows not only the fundamental pitches played to vibrate sympathetically, but some of their partials as well. The result is a gradual increase in complexity of texture, depending on the volume of the clarinet, number of notes played, and length of time that the pedal is held.

The quarter tones and pitch bends in the clarinet part of Nishimura's Aquatic Aura also produce sympathetic vibrations from the piano that are generated as soon as the sustain pedal is depressed


Example #38 (click on music for mp3)


Richard Boulanger also explores the resonance of the timpani in Construction #1 - Clarinet (1980). Several different combinations of clarinet sounds and timpani that include vibrating objects resting on their heads, are employed. In one phrase, the clarinetist activates a timpanum that contains an inverted cymbal on its head, by playing a low E (full tube length) which crescendos to a short flutter-tongued E. The clarinetist depresses the timpanum pedal at the end of this sound to lengthen and raise the pitch (Example #40).


Example #40 (click on music for mp3)


This same timpanum is also later activated by a phoneme that is shouted through the clarinet, while the pedal is quickly depressed and released several times (Example #41).


Example #41 (click on music for mp3)


Richard Boulanger CONSTRUCTION #1

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Used by permission from the composer

One more object as resonator will be mentioned, and that is the clarinet body itself which serves as an amplifier of breath/air sounds through the instrument. The timbre qualities of these sounds change depending on the length of tube involved. In Kochi II for solo clarinet, Isao Matsushita begins the work by alternating between conventional chalumeau pitches, and air sounds.

Example #45 (click on music for mp3)



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