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Clarinet Lessons: Beethoven - Symphony #6, 1st Movement

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Beethoven's symphony #6 is
basically the most
standard kind of exerpt.
You're going to have to play that no
matter how much you try to avoid it.
[LAUGH] So the reason why this one is
a little difficult is because we need just
about everything that It's in our arsenal.
We need to have polished centered,
even, warm, clear tone.
We need to have smooth legato and
a delicate articulation
with dynamic control.
So basically we need a reed that gives
us enough strength for being able to
play in loud dynamics with full sound, but
flexible enough that we can play softly.
And in here, basically,
everything that we've been talking about
in terms of fundamentals comes into play.
The air, the speed of air,
that control the height and position for
proper voicing in the upper register.
The super legato fingering, it's
the octopus finger, so then we go from
a bouncy kind of articulation to
a very liquid approach to the sound.
So then all the legato and the articulated
passages really have enough contrast.
And also while we're trying to do all
the things, we still have to have
a good attitude and carry it with a happy
bouncy character in the inflections.
What does that mean to
have a bouncy character?
It's that we have to accelerate
some of the classical
period articulation,
stylistic things that we have to do.
Such as clipping the last note before
an articulation, it has to have a lift, so
that then it has a levity and
therefore the next articulation is clear.
Such as a passage Now we will have to
practice with little things like this.
That's in slow motion, but you see
we have to have a lift, we cannot go,
its sort of flat,
we have to have a lift on the last note,
which is the F mi,
fa, lift, A, da, da, da, and the so, fa,
mi, re, the D has to have
a lift before the last G.
So that then, we have clarity for
the articulations, and levity.
So, [SOUND] we have to
practice it slowly so
that then we make sure we are getting
each articulation correct.
So that kind of articulation
is paramount in order to get
the start of the piece.
The other thing that you have to really
take into consideration is what we have
been talking about in terms
of the octopus fingers.
Then we have incredible legato fingers,
because if we don't,
then we will have a lot of
articulation in our fingers.
And therefore there would be not that much
contrast between all the articulation
and the legato.
In the passage that I'm talking about
is the one at around 4:18 to 4:38,
there, we need to bring the staccato,
mi fa, la, so.
So they have to have bounce.
And then
And then, legato fingers.
So that then we can try to get what I
call, trying to get as much
legato without consonants.
So that we will try to do
the squeeze fingers, let me try.
See that you can get legato out of air,
but the fingers are not legato and
so notes pop out and it sounds, what I
would call, a little bit more pedestrian,
and even though it's a piece
that gives you the character
of being out in the country, so
it has a buoyancy, etcetera.
Even within that,
we still have to bring that contrast of
reminding me, nice breeze.
We want a breeze that comes, and
we feel it instead of da, da, da,da,
we're not riding a donkey
through out the whole piece.
But we have bounce, we have joy,
and then we feel the breeze,
and the beautiful air and we feel happy.
So our solo two before K to the end of
the movement,
it is basically the most standard solo and
the most difficult one that we always
have to play in clarinet auditions.
It is difficult because we have to be
able to have great dynamic control
while maintaining staccatos going
from the different registers,
especially having to play high
D that doesn't stick out.
And at the same time,
because of all that, we have to try to
play it with a little bit of levity,
which means happiness.
How do we get the happiness across?
It's the type of articulation
that we have to get going for it.
Now in the piece, there's actually not,
if you look at the excerpt,
there's no staccatos in the triplets.
And we have the bassoon doing a hemiola
while we're playing those triplets.
So that little hemiola gives us
the chance to feel like there
is something that is fluid.
Okay, now the other thing
is that we have after
we get the forte subido,
we have a piano.
Now we just have to be thinking about
that because well we tend to play softly
right there, because we sometimes
equate that sweet means soft.
And that's not necessarily the true
meaning of that, especially for
music by Beethoven and
where it relates to clarinet.
Clarinets in that period were made out of
boxwood, and the instruments actually,
boxwood clarinets don't tend to have
the kind of projection that cocobolo or
grenadilla instruments have.
And therefore, the dynamics that
he writes in there are correct.
You have to play with a full sound,
forte, full sound.
But he in this symphony,
just as in the eighth symphony,
he put dolce in a spot where we're
supposed to play with a lot of sound.
Because we're trying to get away from
the clarino aspect of the sound,
which is the little trumpet.
So we don't want to sound too harsh,
so it has to have buoyancy, and
it has to have warmth while it
still has to be a big sound.
That also helps, though, because then,
when we're playing like that,
then the fortes that are reinforced a few
measures later are opportunities for
us to give more air, more sound, and
gives us a little bit more room for
getting from that forte to
a diminuendo at the end of the solo.
The trick is to try not to play the
diminuendo too fast, because otherwise we
get to get too tight, and then we bite,
and then the notes might not come out.
And the other thing is that I tried
to practice this, I would recommend,
too, this is one of those exercises
extremely important to practice
without the register key.
It sounds not the most pleasant way
that you would imagine the clarinet,
but it actually forces us
to keep the voicing high,
the finger coordination, and the air.
Therefore, I will practice it like this.
Now if you could hear
the little bit of undertone,
that means because I'm actually practicing
it without the key, and that helps me.
You will find that many times,
at the beginning when we go
the B will not come out.
And sometime we get the low E instead.
Usually that will happen because of
finger coordination with the tonguing,
which then,
practicing without the register key helps
us to realize exactly what is happening.
So do not get frustrated
with this kind of practice.
It is supposed to be hard so
that then whenever we play a solo,
it should be a little bit less difficult.