JD Random thoughts: Resonance Patterns

Hello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

Readers, I’m really struggling to write something not tremendously boring these days. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of cool things to tell you about, it’s that I’m half way into a lot of projects and I just don’t like talking about things before I have something to show for it. Kinda feels like your “idea balloon” deflates a little bit when I do that. Does that sound ridiculous?

So here are some random thoughts…

As I look back at last month I realize most of the work I had involved singers. Recordings, rehearsals, concerts in town and concerts out of town, if you consider Bowen Island “out of town”…which I do… because it sounds more impressive, and I’m dying to impress you, or really anyone.

Point is, singers… I played with lots of ’em recently.

Jazz vocalists, like jazz clarinetists, are an oft-derided bunch. They come to this music from a different perspective than instrumentalists, less about the endless harmonic/rhythmic possibilities of jazz improv and more about story, emotion, connection and resonance. It was the resonance that struck me in particular with a few singers who I played 3 feet away from. Their voices really resonated, in fact in seemed like their whole body was resonating.

That led me to think about my alto sax, which I’ve started playing more of recently. My alto is not a particularly good instrument, and the mouthpiece isn’t anything special either, but that horn really resonates in a way my tenor sax and clarinet don’t. My bass clarinet is close to that level of resonance but not quite. It was hard to describe the difference, until it hit me: These instruments all have a different resonance patterns (trademark!). You can feel not only the resonance the instrument produces but also how far the resonance pattern reaches by how it reflects back to you. The pattern for my alto feels like a wide circle with a rounded point that extends about 10 feet in front of me, whereas the clarinet pattern feels a little more square-like and doesn’t extend that far around me. It’s possible that what I’ve been looking for in my clarinet setup isn’t so much more volume as more resonance, and a specific resonance pattern too.

Now, at this point your probably thinking I’m ready to buy a big bag of weed, a pottery wheel and one-way ferry ticket to Bowen Island, but I’m telling you… I’m onto something here.

Incidentally, I’m playing Légère reeds on all my horns, still quite happy with them. And this one particular alto reed is the one that gets the resonance; the others I have… not so much. So the reed is definitely part of it but I have some great clarinet reeds too. No, there’s more to it than that. Playing the alto again has raised the bar in terms of how much resonance I expect to produce, so yeah… I’m looking at different mouthpieces (and horns) again.

I’ll keep you posted on what I find, but for now I’m going to pack it in. I started about 7 things today and this is the only one that actually got completed. You’re welcome!!

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone!

  • Ed

    Check out mouthpieces by http://www.clarkwfobes.com
    Clark is a great guy who really knows his stuff and makes fine mouthpieces. You can call him to find out what he suggests.