“Scooping/glissing” into notes

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Home Forums Pedagogy Teaching – General: Solutions, Question, Tips “Scooping/glissing” into notes

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    Dawn Striker-Allan

    I was just listening to Stephen Caplan’s recording of “Saltwater Blues.” He scoops into some of the notes and it really sounds great. I also remember David Weiss doing a wonderful klezmer-style piece with a lot of glisses at the Austin convention last year and I was intrigued. I’ve tried doing this a little but am not sure if it is a “reed thing”, an “embouchure thing”, or a combination of both. Should the reed be less stable than your regular oboe reed? Also, are there any good exercises to work on this technique?

    Neville Forsythe

    Hi Dawn

    Though not an oboist, (and not really having tried that hard to do “smears” and “doits” on my bassoon), I have adapted my clarinet playing to include these effects.

    On clarinet it is mainly embouchre produced (unless you are doing the big glissando at the start of Rhapsody in Blue – which uses a combination of fingering and embouchre).

    I get students to take a highish note using normal embouchre (in the range requiring the “eeeee” tongue / palate position – say around upper G on oboe).

    From that note I get them to de-tune the note downwards mainly by modulating from “ee’ to “eu” to “oo” to “aw”. This drops the breath pressure and at the same time decreases the bite on the reed. The note then glisses downwards – it may take some perseverance to make the change as much as a semi-tone.

    The next step is to try to start the same high note a semitone flat by starting with the “aw” jaw dropped low pressure setting of tongue & palate. Then reverse the modulation from “aw” through “oo”, “eu” to “ee” increasing both bite and air pressure.

    The next challenge is to do it on a range of notes and eventually in the course of playing. A little jazz knowledge will help identify the “blue” note and other suitable notes on which to smear.

    Klezmer experts can really make the clarinet positively chuckle with these effects.

    Have fun.

    Cheers Neville

    stephen caplan

    Well Dawn, I’m flattered that you liked my scooping around on Saltwater Blues! As to how I did it, it’s mostly an embouchure thing. I don’t need a special reed–I make reeds that are generally stable, but flexible. I also play with a very flexible embouchure generally, rather than a more “fixed” embouchure. When working with Ray Still as a student at Northwestern (too many years ago) I spent a lot of time making funny noises on the reed alone, in order to develop the musculature for a flexible embouchure that could quickly respond to musical needs. He had me making siren-like noises, making sudden dynamic changes and pitch fluctuations (mostly between c-d flat), as well as mastering the diminuendo–all on just the reed. Some of it seemed silly at the time, but over the years I’ve found it really helps me to stay in tune and to make expressive gestures on the instrument. It also made playing Saltwater Blues a lot of fun!
    Basically, the important thing is to have a strong musical conception in your head about what you want to sound like, then have fun experimenting until you start to make it happen. Good luck!–Stephen Caplan

    Dawn Striker-Allan

    Stephen and Neville – thanks so much for your responses. I’m looking forward to trying out those tips!


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