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SYOS

Soprano Sax Tuning

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
a keen amateur on (soprano) clarinet, for me I feel I have to be very close to feeling “top of the pitch” on the mouthpiece to have any chance of being in tune at the top of clarion register and up through the altissimo to upper altissimo. Same goes for soprano sax.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
a keen amateur on (soprano) clarinet, for me I feel I have to be very close to feeling “top of the pitch” on the mouthpiece to have any chance of being in tune at the top of clarion register and up through the altissimo to upper altissimo. Same goes for soprano sax.
Have you measured your pitch on mouthpiece alone? What note do you play with your regular embouchure?
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,060
Have you measured your pitch on mouthpiece alone? What note do you play with your regular embouchure?
I think that this is a great way to diagnose problems. However I can't believe I'd be able to play the mouthpiece alone with exactly the same embouchure as when on the instrument - my ears are going to adjust my embouchure to make the sound that I most want to hear.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,060
I feel I have to be very close to feeling “top of the pitch” on the mouthpiece to have any chance of being in tune
This also presumes the use of an embouchure that does not change from the chalumeau to altissimo (as far that is possible). Whilst I am one of these, many will not be and the embouchure will tighten from the latter clarion register.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,060
The angle of the clarinet plays a good part in having good altissimo - probably 45deg would be the max as far as classical technique goes, and the "norm" being what, 40deg?

Chin forward is another big one, rather than "jaw bite". In the middle of your jaw movement is about right, and your top and bottom teeth should be fairly aligned, possibly lower jaw teeth being a tickle further out.

The other thing is not to have too much lip tucked over, "like a duvet" as one of my clarinet profs used to say.

A simple test is to play a low F at a healthy volume and when centered open the register key (sounding clarion C) and then take your fingers off one by one to move up the scale to high C. The trick is to not let the ear adjust the embouchure for this exercise. You can keep yourself more honest by getting a friend to work the register key (so you aren't prepared for it) or get a friend to finger the notes while you blow having turned the mouthpiece around.

That's the 'classical way'. You'll notice in pictures that Artie Shaw held the clarinet away from the body at a rather higher degree than 45. He played with a very fine technique.

Oh, and lastly, the tongue position relative to the reed (closer) helps nip up the tuning on altissimo too.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,678
I find the higher I go on clarinet the more I have to pull it down and relax. It feels counter logic but tightening up and pushing ruins my tone and intonation.

I need to do this on baritone too.
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
Have you measured your pitch on mouthpiece alone? What note do you play with your regular embouchure?
I've done some pitch tests, out of interest,
(as opposed to thinking they're any real value in theirselves):

Clarinet mouthpiece (Portnoy BP02) = C,
if I "over-tighten", I can push less than a quarter-tone sharper.

Mouthpiece & barrel (Leblanc , L= 67 mm, iirc) = F#,
Again, I can "over-tighten" & push it maybe a dozen 'cents' sharper.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,060
I've done some pitch tests, out of interest,
(as opposed to thinking they're any real value in theirselves):

Clarinet mouthpiece (Portnoy BP02) = C,
if I "over-tighten", I can push less than a quarter-tone sharper.

Mouthpiece & barrel (Leblanc , L= 67 mm, iirc) = F#,
Again, I can "over-tighten" & push it maybe a dozen 'cents' sharper.
I played on a Portnoy BP02 for years. I found them to play a tad on the flat side. That was on a Buffet though. I also had a David Hite Pro years ago which played a tad higher and more around “zero”. I accidentally broke it.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,060
The clarinet is a bugger - you can tune it (useable) far less than a sax and when you do pull out the barrel or use a shorter one it’s affected far more.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,678
I meant with oral cavity and throat. I try not to vary embouchure pressure for pitch. I do vary it for volume though. I have no idea what Pete means.
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
“pulling it down” ,for me, is dropping the pitch using palette / voicing / embouchure / throat-coupling - - -

Loosening. I can drop the pitch on barrel+mpc more than two tones, before it breaks back to an 'un-coupled' higher pitch.
With fully assembled clarinet, I can drop the pitch almost an octave from a 2nd leger C natural.

My useless analogy: pitch is like swimming in the sea, you can dive way down deep and back to the surface, you can even get up higher, a little bit out of the water, just above the surface, but the surface is the (pitch) level you're supposed to be at. Or something.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
I've done some pitch tests, out of interest,
(as opposed to thinking they're any real value in theirselves):

Clarinet mouthpiece (Portnoy BP02) = C,
if I "over-tighten", I can push less than a quarter-tone sharper.

Mouthpiece & barrel (Leblanc , L= 67 mm, iirc) = F#,
Again, I can "over-tighten" & push it maybe a dozen 'cents' sharper.
And on Soprano sax?
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
p.s. as an aside - i, too, sold my 48/49 SBA Selmer alto, couldn't handle the tuning irregularities, despite numerous attempts to have them ameliorated. '55 Mk6 alto went the same way, for the same reasons. (if I go back to Selmer alto, it would be either a last of run Mk6, or a ref 54 )
 
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