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

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Preface | Purpose, Contents | Acknowledgements; Theory of Finger Technique |
Introduction | Alternate Fingerings | Microtones | Quarter-Tones |Quarter-Tone Trills | Equidistant Microtones | Disjunct Microtones | Atypical Trills | Spectrograms
Acoustic Principles | Chart | Diads | Sequences | Trills | With Voice | Spectrograms
Portamento | Teeth on Reed | Resonators | Vibrato | Flutter Tongue | Singing | Percussive Sounds | Speaking | Spectrograms
Alternate Fingerings | Composite Fingerings | Quarter-Tones | Microtones | Three-Voice Multiphonics | Multiphonic Portamento | Multiphonic Trills
Preface | Single Sounds | Altissimo Fingering Chart | Quarter-Tone Scale | Multiphonic Chart | Multiphonic Spectrograms | Portamento | Percussive Sounds
Preface | Altissimo Alternates | Altissimo Fingering Chart | Quarter-Tone Scale | Equidistant Microtones | Microtonal Scales | Multiphonic Chart | Multiphonic Trills | Other Resources | History

The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century

New Sonic Resources based on Principles of Acoustics

-E. Michael Richards-

The Project

The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century is a multimedia package (audio clips, video clips, interactive website, written text and music) that contains information on new sonic resources for soprano (Bb), bass, and e-flat clarinet in the form of more than 900 pages of text, illustrated by more than 300 examples and charts by the author and from music since 1960 by close to 100 composers from throughout the world. More than 1000 sound files are available on 23 CDs or as MP3 downloads, as are more than 75 etudes and exercises written by the author to help the clarinetist learn to produce these sounds. A DVD movie (with companion booklet) and DVD-ROM (both on one disc) are also available that present a significant portion of this material in text, visual stills, video clips, audio clips, and links to references and websites of publishers, composers, and other areas of interest for today's clarinetist. This website is linked from the DVD in order to provide updated research pertinent to the project. In sum, The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century documents 538 alternate fingerings, 1200 multiphonics, 1042 microtones, 71 multiphonic trills, and numerous other sounds and techniques.

The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century is a valuable resource for not only professional and advanced clarinetists and composers, but for clarinet teachers and students, as well. Music written during the last forty years has especially challenged clarinetists to master new techniques and sounds in order to expand the expressive capabilities of their instrument. Much of what players learn through this process can also be applied to mastering the language of the standard literature (alternate fingerings is one example), and towards developing a stronger basic technique smoother legato, and greater control of tone and phrasing nuances. Most importantly, learning to produce extended techniques improves listening skills and opens one's musical imagination.


1) to expand the sonic resources of the clarinet based on peculiarities of its acoustical design (including a history of the evolution of its design since c. 1839) and of its current performance tradition: a wedding of theory and practice. The need for this approach has been especially supported by my experience in performing or reading countless new works that utilize new techniques for the clarinet in an awkward fashion, or that do not take musical advantage of some inherent strengths of the instrument. Charts of new sounds have been included, based on acoustical principles of the clarinet. I hope that this approach will help to overcome the idiosyncratic and empirical nature of earlier studies.

2) to present suggestions to composers for use of extended techniques in appropriate musical contexts. These are illustrated by musical examples (represented by notated scores and sound recordings) from a variety of works written since 1960 (with an abundance of works since 1985 by Asian composers), and by musical examples that I have composed. My goal in these illustrations has been to avoid recipes for musical compositions or suggestions of rigid limitations.

3) to present progressive exercises and etudes (more than 50 exercises and 30 etudes) to lead the clarinetist towards gaining facility with these new techniques/sounds. Learning is prescribed through written descriptions, and illustrated with aural (audio sound files) and visual (DVD) examples. I have attempted to coordinate as closely as possible the methods of learning extended techniques with methods of learning more familiar conventional techniques.

Chapter II - Single Sounds discusses alternate fingerings, quarter-tones (including trills and tremolos), and microtones (including equidistant, trills, tremolos, and with percussive key sounds). 478 microtones and 213 alternate fingerings are categorized in terms of acoustical origin, timbre, dynamic range, response, and stability. Numerous musical examples ~more~

Chapter III - Multiple Sounds consists of a brief historical overview and dialogue of acoustical explanations for this phenomenon. Multiphonics are classified according to property (overtones or undertones), in practical sequences (according to identical left hand fingerings), by pitch (lowest), timbre, dynamic range, response, stability, and possibility to approach from highest or lowest pitch alone. Many musical examples. ~more~

Chapter IV - Other Resources includes sounds of definite pitch, sounds of indefinite or ambiguous pitch (noise and pitch approximation), and specific techniques (flutter tonguing, etc.) which may be applied to sounds of one or both categories (or conventional tones, sounds from Chapters II and III, etc.). Many musical examples ~more~

Etudes and Exercises are designed as a companion to charts and musical examples of extended techniques. Only a small selection of material from this encyclopedic catalog has been used in these etudes in order to provide both an outline for further development. Each etude is prefaced with a description of its difficulties and suggestions for exercises to approach these difficulties before and during practice. These suggested methods incorporate conventional concepts and methods of clarinet playing and teaching. The etudes are organized into four categories, arranged from closest to conventional techniques [alternate fingerings], to most experimental [non-pitched resources]. ~more~

Tanosaki-Richards Duo The Tanosaki-Richards Duo, active since 1982, has performed at the 1989 International Electronic Music Plus Festival (Oberlin, OH), the Tokyo American Center, the 1990 and 1993 Kobe International Festivals of Modern Music (Japan), the 1992 Music Forum Series at Shobi Conservatory (Tokyo, Japan), the 1993 Meet the Composer Series at the Center for Computer Music and Music Technology of the Kunitachi College of Music (Tokyo), the 1995 Asian Composers' Forum (Sendai, Japan), in residence at the Conservatorio G. Nicolini, Piacenza, Italy, and at 25 colleges and universities throughout the US and Japan. Read about them, hear clips from their recordings, and peruse information about upcoming concerts. ~more~

The Bass Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century The Bass Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century is designed to serve as a companion to The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century. A very different instrument from the soprano clarinet, not only do many bass clarinets extend to a low, written C2, but because of the size of the instrument, all of the finger tone holes are covered by key pads (no rings or open holes), and the instrument utilizes two register keys. As a result, what is lost with regard to microtonal capabilities is gained through an extended altissimo register and variety of half-pitched, percussive sound possibilities. The Bass Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century describes 142 alternate fingerings, 118 microtonal fingerings, and 318 multiphonic fingerings. ~more~

The E-flat Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century The E-flat Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century is designed to serve as a companion to The Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century . A very different instrument from the soprano clarinet, it is difficult to play in tune and more resistant to play than the B-flat clarinet, but easier to articulate cleanly. Because of the acoustical design of the instrument, both the altissimo register and color contrasts throughout its range are more limited than that of the soprano clarinet. The E-flat Clarinet of the Twenty-First Century describes 183 alternate fingerings, 446 microtonal fingerings, 419 multiphonic fingerings, and 71 multiphonic trills. ~more~