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Tone getting that New Orleans clarinet sound

MikeM70

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Not sure if this has been asked, but my cup of jazz is New Orleans or more trad jazz and I was curious how you achieve that clarinet tone? It seems more raucous than classical clarinet, not as polite. Is it a reed/mouth piece thing or is it more down to technique? For reference this is the kind of thing I'm thinking of (plus you can never have too many Tuba Skinny songs)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAZ8LP7RaWM
 

Pete Thomas

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I find it easier if I'm using a widish tip, I used to have a Berg Larsen that was great but I lost it. This may be due to being primarily a saxophone player, as I think back in the day of New Orleans swing I doubt the mouthpieces were anything other than very standard fairly close tipped "classical" pieces.
 

jbtsax

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A more relaxed embouchure and "overblowing" will achieve a less "refined" sound on clarinet with any mouthpiece. I know this because I taught beginning clarinet players for over 20 years. :) Of course playing lower on the mouthpiece pitch requires a shorter barrel to bring the instrument up to pitch when playing with other instruments. The first time I heard the Preservation Hall Band at Preservation Hall I was a bit surprised by the "unrefined" tone quality of the clarinet player. It didn't take long however to just listen to the notes and the style and accept the tone for what it is. It is hard to characterize just one "New Orleans" clarinet sound. Players of a newer generation such as Tim Laughlin (pronounced Lock-lin) play with a sound that is more refined.

 
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MikeM70

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Devon, UK.
thanks David, yup, that's the tone right there. It's interesting seeing him playing up close, it looks more technique than gear alone, it's like he's forcing the tone out of the horn, almost over blowing, though not sure that's the right term, but still being in full control.
 

David Roach

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thanks David, yup, that's the tone right there. It's interesting seeing him playing up close, it looks more technique than gear alone, it's like he's forcing the tone out of the horn, almost over blowing, though not sure that's the right term, but still being in full control.
I don't think there's too much forcing going on, his tone is clear and unrestricted (within his style). What you are seeing is a great deal of embouchure strength, developed over many years.
 

Dibbs

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Not too hard a reed. You'll never get that sound if you play on a something resembling a cricket bat.
 

GJ77

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I find it easier if I'm using a widish tip, I used to have a Berg Larsen that was great but I lost it. This may be due to being primarily a saxophone player, as I think back in the day of New Orleans swing I doubt the mouthpieces were anything other than very standard fairly close tipped "classical" pieces.
I agree. Traditionally narrow clarinet pieces are hard work for me and wider just feels more natural to a sax player.
I’ve recently bought a Vandoren BD5 (a fairly new model), and it’s great for that sound...to me at least.
 

Stephen Howard

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I have a few clients who play exclusively New Orleans style clarinet - and they all use simple system clarinets.
One of them even owns a clarinet that once belonged to Johnny Dodds.
 

AndyWhiteford

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as I understand it, many Albert-system clarinets had a larger bore, w.r.t. Boehm system instruments- so maybe a wider-bore instrument is the way to get closer to the "New Orleans" sound.
- I play large bore LeBlanc and Selmer (all Boehm-keyed instruments).

otherwise, bring some 'jazz/blues saxophone' technique to your approach- softer embouchure, softer reed, , larger tip opening, lots of vibrato, lots of volume, pitch-flexibility, growl : everything, in fact, that's the opposite of the "legitimate" /classical clarinet approach...
 

AndyWhiteford

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and thanks for the Tuba Skinny video, i didn't even know Al's grand-daughter could play piano alongside her trumpet & cornet ;-) - well of course she can!
 

jbtsax

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...maybe you know this already?
Thanks for that interesting video. What I found most interesting was the fact that he is not playing "at the top of the pitch" on the mouthpiece as is done playing classical clarinet. This was made obvious when he demonstrated his vibrato going both below the pitch and above. When playing at the top of the pitch, the vibrato can only go below. I'm guessing that playing in this fashion requires a bit shorter barrel in order to be in tune with A=440.
 
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