8736Re: [RedHotJazz] Dippermouth Clarinet phrase - recorded for Okeh in June 1923 - Formation and Performance Practice of the KOCJB.
- Jun 8, 2011Hi Folks,
The differences between the Albert system and the Boehm system are quite simple to explain. With the Albert (or simple, as it is sometimes known) system clarinet there are no alternative ways of playing any of the notes whereas the Boehm system allows this facility thus making the instrument slightly easier to play. The sytem was invented for the flute by Theobald Boehm in the 1840s and later adapted for many woodwind instruments. I know how the system works but to explain it is very long winded and there is a very good description of it in Wikipaedia which can be found by entering 'Boehm system clarinet' in your search engine.
For many years I owned an Albert system clarinet but as my main instrument was a trombone it saw very little use. A number of clarinet players of my acquaintance who used Boehm instruments tried it out and found it to be an acquired taste. Eventually I passed it on to a chap who persevered with it but he said that some of the more difficult passages that he was able to perform on the Boehm system were fiendishly difficult on the Albert system. Incidentally, most reed instruments around these days use a version of the Boehm system in one form or another.
TTFN - 007
--- On Wed, 8/6/11, Andrew Homzy <andrew.homzy@...> wrote:
From: Andrew Homzy <andrew.homzy@...>
Subject: [RedHotJazz] Dippermouth Clarinet phrase - recorded for Okeh in June 1923 - Formation and Performance Practice of the KOCJB.
Date: Wednesday, 8 June, 2011, 20:42
You bring up another interesting consideration regarding the formation and performance practice of the KOCJB.
Regarding the "unidiomatic recurring motif (complex fingering)" -
Is this the one you mean?
If my tiny attachment doesn't come through the system, let me know and I'll send it privately to all who ask.
Dodds played an Albert system clarinet. Thus, an idiomatic fingering in that system may be quite awkward in the Boehm system.
Here is an excerpt from a dissertation by By Patricia A.Martin B.M., Eastman School of Music, 1984 M.M., Michigan State University, 1990 May 2003
THE SOLO STYLE OF JAZZ CLARINETIST JOHNNY DODDS: 1923 – 1938
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College
In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in The School of Music.
When interviewed by William Russell, Omer Simeon said that “almost everyone was using [the] Albert system at that time, all through the early twenties.”69 Early jazz clarinetists liked the Albert system because of its bigger tone, due to its larger bore size (a typical Boehm system bore of 1890 was 14.7 as compared to the larger 15.0 millimeter-sized Albert of the same period).70 They also had the perception that the Albert was easier to play, since it had only thirteen keys as opposed to the seventeen-key Boehm system.71
69 Bill Russell, New Orleans Style, 199. 70 Deborah Check Reeves, “Eugène Albert and the Albert System”, Research paper presented in Ostend, Belgium, 1999 at the International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest, 2.
71 Bill Russell, New
Orleans Style, 213.35
This was an erroneous assumption, as the more numerous keys of the Boehm system often
made difficult passages much easier than when played on the Albert system.72 Players also liked the Albert system because it gave them a greater facility to “bend” notes, a blues-playing technique used to create “blue” notes. (The smaller bore size and smaller tone holes found on the Boehm system made it much more difficult to bend notes.) “Blue notes” are meant to sound off-pitch and fall slightly between notes. 73 The simpler Albert key system allowed the players to create blue notes, which were formed using a combination of embouchure and fingering, whereas the Boehm system’s more intricate and accoustically-correct key system made it difficult.
Another reason for using the Albert system was the fact that there were numerous inexpensive Albert clarinets available after the Civil War. The Albert
system had a larger bore and mouthpiece, which created a loud, carrying tone, making it the ideal addition to the Civil War military band. Many instruments ended up in pawnshops when the war ended and they were no longer needed.
Albert system clarinets were made of wood, hard-rubber (resonite) or metal. The Eb clarinet was most often used in parades and brass bands, as it was a smaller, higher instrument and could cut through the sound of the brass in the band and carry over other outdoor noises. The A, Bb and C clarinets were favored when playing in bands and small ensembles. Often a musician would use the instrument which best fit the key of the piece in order to avoid transposing the music.
72 Bill Russell, New Orleans Style, 213. 73 James Lincoln Collier, The Making of Jazz (New York: Dell Publishing, 1978), 38.
All clarinets have three sections, or registers. The lowest, which Dodds often favored, was called the
“chalumeau”, named after an early instrument that preceded and had basic similarities to the modern clarinet. The second, or middle register, is called the “clarion” register, which indicated the clarion trumpet-like sound that this register could achieve. The third, or high register, is simply called the “altissimo”, which means highest in Italian.
Dodds was known to use a very basic thirteen-key, Selmer model Albert system for most of his career. Nothing specific is known about the mouthpiece or ligature he used. Dodds kept his clarinets until they began falling apart, and often resorted to using rubber bands to try and keep a clarinet in one piece. In 1939 he received a new clarinet from his friend Hoyte Kline, which Dodds referred to as half Albert and half Boehm.74 This was most likely Selmer’s late 1920s “improved” Albert system clarinet, which maintained a bottom section that was the same as the old Albert
and a top section that was more similar to the Boehm system. The improved Albert’s top section had added ring keys on the F#1 and the D1/A2 keys. However the improved Albert system continued to use rollers on adjacent side keys instead of the long side lever keys common to the Boehm system.
This improved Albert was Selmer’s top of the line instrument, featuring six rings, four rollers, an articulated G# key, and an alternate D# key. Jimmy Dorsey75,
74 Letter from Johnny Dodds to Hoyte D. Kline, April 3, 1939, File 3, The Johnny Dodds Collection, William Russell Jazz Collection, Williams Research Center. 75 Bill Russell, New Orleans Style, 214.
37 Barney Bigard, Jimmie Noone and Omer Simeon76 eventually changed instruments
and moved from the simple Albert system to the “improved” Albert system.
p.s. - Here is information on clarinet fingerings -
On 2011-06-08, at 11:10 AM, Erlend Bronken wrote:
> Hello, everybody.
> Thanks for all replies, and thanks especially to those who informed me about the
listings in Rust and Lord, that was very valuable.
> So many topics and perspectives of view have come up here, but nobody really went into the music, for an answer. I analyzed the piece. They have changed some chords, on the second recording. The very few variations made by Dodds, are made where the chords are the same as before. Kid Ory also has a line he plays over and over, by the way. The added chords give a better harmonic curve and drive forward, as compared to the original, traditional, rather static blues scheme. So they added to the quality of the tune this way, and the musicians have been given specific lines to fit with the new chords. The line Dodds is playing again and again, is so classically built, it could have been taken out of a text book on composition. It also has a rather unidiomatic recurring motif (complex fingering) that would probably not have been there, had Dodds made his own line. Now, there is one member of
the band who has classical training and who has studied music theory at Fisk University. Lillian Hardin is listed as arranger on all of these records, but it seems to me that nobody ever reflected on what she is actually doing as an arranger in this band. I guess the observations made here, give us an example of it.
> Best Regards,
> Erlend Bronken
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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