Upper Register Tunings: Tests 16-19
This is an additional fine tuning test for G3. We find it to be very important for tuning and upper register response. It is my secret fingering for the tricky passage in The Rite of Spring for the quick back-and-forth triplet, B to G. (For my students, my secret fingerings were referred to by dollar amounts. This one is worth $500. Of course, they never paid me!)
Test: B to G Slur Down
Slur back and forth from the standard B4 fingering to the Alternate G3 fingering to check ease of response.
- G doesn’t speak, hesitates, or “hangs”.
- G produces a multi-phonic or a lower note.
- G produces a multi-phonic or moves up to A3 or higher note.
Use the solutions for “If Sharp or Unstable on Harmonic” from the Quick Guide.
Test: Slur Up to G
Can you play the passage from Scheherazade without having to push or accent the G to get it to speak? Can you slur up from D to G with a diminuendo and without the use of the whisper key, keeping the first finger (L.H.) open (no half hole)?
- G doesn’t speak or hesitates
- G is sharp
- G must be accented
For those who suffer with problems on high A and Bb, there are several solutions:
- Reduce the size of the C# tone hole with tape.
- Reduce the pad height for the C# tone hole.
- Revise the tone hole to a longer/larger, metal-lined tone hole.
- Add a bridge key from the A/Bb register key to the whisper key. These can be added to Fox instruments by the factory.
This embouchure shift effectively shortens the vibrating length of the blade and at the same time keeps the tip open through a controlled “bite.” The final effect is essentially a shorter, narrower reed. This is accomplished by changing the angle of your head: rotate the center of your embouchure to the right with the upper lip at the back of the blade next to the collar and the lower lip to the left edge of the bottom blade. (photo)
Extreme High Register Solutions
Hole in the Reed or Bocal
This is a magic bullet! Drill a hole in the top of the reed (Fig. 19D) or bocal. Start with the smaller diameter and increase in size until you get the response you want. Be sure to drill in the side of the reed you’ll be playing up so that it does not become clogged with moisture as you are playing. The author prefers making a hole in the reed rather than the bocal. The downside is a stream of air blowing up into your nose! For those who prefer to make a hole in the bocal, keep it covered with tape until needed. Bocals that are typically not responsive in the extreme upper register are suddenly able to pick off or respond to the highest notes with an added hole in the reed or bocal.
Steve “high-note” Harris-Wangler demonstrates what you don’t want composers to know about!
Coming soon: Harris-Wangler High Note Fingering Chart