In 1963 William O. Smith, one of the pioneers in clarinet extended techniques, composed and performed Variants for Solo Clarinet. The goal of his compositing was to show off some of the less known extended techniques for the clarinet. These extended techniques include: muted clarinet, growling through the instrument while playing, multiphonics, trilled multiphonics, key vibrato, and biting the reed to produce the highest tones a clarinet can produce. Throughout the piece Smith indicates how to perform the extended techniques, but in some cases the written explanations are inconsistent and can be achieved through different means.
Many of Smith’s fingerings and suggestions are inconsistent because of the variations in clarinetist’s instruments, reeds, and embouchure. A possible reason for these inconsistencies could be Smith’s background as a doubler, a musician that is proficient in multiple instruments. While Smith may have tried to keep his jazz and classical influences separate there was bound to be some overlap in his approach to clarinet. In fact, Smith sought to expand his own understanding of the clarinet by writing the Variants. However, in his attempt to increase the scope of what the clarinet can do the piece includes various impracticalities, and many of the fingerings for the extended techniques can be altered in order to make the piece more idiomatic in performances. In this paper I will explore each extended technique from the six movements, point out the more inconsistent areas, provide suggestion on how to achieve the requested techniques, and give a fresh interpretation of the Variants. Despite some of the inconsistencies in the piece, Smith still managed to create a composition that would lead composers and clarinetists to further their understanding of the capabilities of the clarinet.
|Commitee:||Doyle, Alicia M, Shockley, Alan|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|Department:||Bob Cole Conservatory of Music|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 81/4(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Clarinet, Composition, Modern, Multiphonic, Music, Technique|
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