" Klezmer is an interpretation of art and life based not solely on Jewish folklore, but rather on a cosmopolitan divergence of musical genres" Giora Feidman 

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How To Choose A Mouthpiece

 

Tips And Avices In Picking Up the Ideal Clarinet Mouthpiece

Pomarico nigun crystal clarinet mouthpiece specially designed for Giora Feidman

Choosing the right mouthpiece for a woodwind player is maybe the most important issue, especially for us, the clarinetist. Searching for an ideal, a better mpc is like searching for the Holy Grail. It is a never ending quest. The trick is not to find the absolute, the perfect, the divine mouthpiece but rather to find the right one which suits the best your playing style and ability.

Among all the different component of the clarinet, the mouthpiece is the most vital one. Changing a mpc will have a greater influence on your playing than switching instruments. The horn is merely an amplifier of the sound produced by the mpc.

There are several ways to buy a clarinet mouthpiece.

First you can buy one off-the-shelf, from a well known brand (Vandoren, Selmer, Pomarico), this is the most affordable (and the easiest) way to acquire a good stock mouthpiece (or a few!)

Order a custom mouthpiece is indeed a more costly approach, but if you can afford it, it may be the right solution to find the mpc that suits optimally your requirements. You must find a manufacturer who is able to design a mpc according to your needs and wishes. The final result will depend on the information you provide to the craftsman and how he will translate it into a successful product.

What is called a "signature" product is in fact a custom mouthpiece designed for or by a renowned artist and then manufactured for a wider public.
Giora Feidman, Eddie Daniels, Buddy The Franco and many others have designed signature mpcs. The issue is that what plays well for those virtuoso musicians will not necessarily work for you. Nevertheless a signature piece of equipment is always a proof of quality and fine craftsmanship.

Testing as many as possible mpcs is the best possible method to find the right one. As we already mentioned the choice of the mpc is a crucial step so it must be taken seriously.

Let's take in consideration the feeling and the sound.

The factors that influence the feeling are the air resistance, the embouchure and the response.

Air resistance is a physical phenomenon and is pretty straightforward to apprehend.
The key is to find the appropriate level of resistance which allows you to blow freely with the reed strength selected.

Your particular embouchure will determine the level of pressure you have to apply on the mpc to center the sound properly. Again choose the appropriate level of pressure you are comfortable with which will allows you a real pleasure of playing (without biting the mpc).

Finally, the response which is the result of the air and embouchure resistances must be in unison with the ease of articulation. A brittle and short staccato, a smooth and long legato are the signs of a good response.

Vandoren clarinet mouthpiece 5RV Lyre

The quality of sound is more difficult to evaluate, although the feel is a more physical issue that can be measured by instruments, the beauty of the sound is a more subjective matter. An oscilloscope can analyse the sound waves but there is no machine to tell us about the beauty of a sound.
The sound you want to produce is in your mind, you already created it. Choose the mouthpiece that allows you to generate it, with the best intonation.
The tonal flexibility gives you the power to communicate several colors of expression and artistic ability.

If possible try new mouthpieces in different musical environments, soloing, chamber music, symphony orchestra to test the adaptability of the mpc to different acoustic surroundings.

One problem in choosing a mouthpiece is that all the benefits are not always immediate and that it can take a while until you fully take advantage of the new features.

Always test new mpc with a new set of reeds, because if your old reeds were suitable to your old mouthpiece there are not necessarily appropriate to the new one. Try also different position of the reed on the mpc. In general, test new mpcs with the horn you are accustomed to, because you are trying the mouthpiece, not the instrument. It gives you also a ground for comparison.

 
The mouthpiece is a element of a whole, it is a delicate chemistry between the musician, the reed, the instrument.

Buying a new clarinet mouthpiece should be an upgrade, an enhancement, an enrichment which will elevate you to a higher musical level. It must be a positive experience, a source of inspiration, of new musical ideas. A good mouthpiece is one that allows you to play freely (free blowing is the keyword), that allows you the fullness of sound without fighting.


No matter if you play an expensive professional clarinet or a cheap plastic model, remember that it is the mouthpiece that will determine considerably the musical and acoustic characteristics, the pleasure of playing and the beauty of the music.










 

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Giora Feidman
"We have one Torah, one shofar, one flag, and the expression of all that is the nigun, any nigun. It's not a song, it's an energy which results from an interpretation of the faith."

 

 

 

"Long live Giora, his clarinet and his music! He builds bridges between generations, cultures and classes, and he does it with perfect artistry!" Leonard Bernstein