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  Clarinet Octave skips  jujomonk at 04:53 on 08 March 2007

I was wondering if Clarinet Octave skips were possible whether played quickly or slowly?

I have looked through a couple of orchestration books and have found a general consensus that the octave skip on the clarinet is impossible. The books, though, are pretty outdated, and would surely not incorporate any new technical advancements for the clarinet. So I wasn't sure whether they were right or not.

I looked through the Clarinet Workshop on this site and found one set of octave skips, which was on the first piece by Emily Koh on the third line of writing. It isn't a straight octave skip. It's a trill followed by a flutter and then the octave skip to the same setup, followed by the same thing. It didn't sound like there was much difficulty in playing it, but I didn't know if it was because of how it was setup.

Is it possible to play a single octave skip on a clarinet, play rapid reiterations of an octave skip, extremely difficult to do one or the other, or just absolutely impossible either way?

  Re: Clarinet Octave skips  Team Gaughan at 12:35 on 08 March 2007

I my experience most players will adapt to whatever you write for them. I have often writen glissandos for the clarinet (and bass clarinet) and to my surprise they have been wonderfully performed

The clarinet itself in the hands of an excellent player seems almost capable of anything composers can throw at it. The recent Clarinet forum was brilliant. If the player can't perform exactly what you require they ofen come up with something just as good or better.

Check out pieces like George Benjamins 3 Inventions which has an excellent solo or Michael Berkleys Concerto as well as the Mozart Concerto (which has almost everything you need for wonderful Clarinet writing) as well as the much debated Clarinet gliss at the start of Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue.

  Re: Clarinet Octave skips  James McFadyen at 00:30 on 10 March 2007

Yes, leaps of an octave are permissable in fast sucession.

The main reason for this is due to the fact that the Clarinet overblows at the octave.

Of course, it goes without saying not to take this too far and write something that is way too fast.

My advice is they will serve as a good colouration device, not unlike grace notes and mordents, etc.

A Clarinet glissando is something different altogether and they are well suited to the instrument and extremely effective, especially in the legato.

Hope this helps.

  Re: Clarinet Octave skips  red5 at 20:02 on 10 March 2007

Sorry James but you are wrong. The clarinet actually overblows the twelfth. Flutes, oboes et. al overblow the octave but the clarinet is the twelfth. This is why octave leaps are tricky, but not impossible, on the clarinet.

  Re: Clarinet Octave skips  James McFadyen at 20:12 on 10 March 2007

Yes, my mistake, they do overblow at the twelfth.