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E-Flat Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with Jessica Phillips Rieske

Video transcript

("Symphony No. 5, II. Alegretto" by Dmitryi Sostakovich) - This is the E-flat clarinet. Also knows as the piccolo clarinet. So, it plays in the high register. I started on B-flat clarinet which is what most people begin on when they start to play clarinet and have lessons. And this is a different voice, it's a really high voice. And it's a lot of fun to play. It's a character in the orchestra. It plays very loud and very angry or it plays a kind of snake charmer, beautiful melody but it's basically a Mimi-Me of the clarinet. And this particular instrument has been customized for me. And this is tulip wood barrel, this is what we call the barrel. So this is the mouthpiece and the ligature. The reed goes here and the reed vibrates against the mouthpiece and that's really what the sound is. Then, this is tulip wood barrel. And this is Grenadilla wood. And then this is also tulip wood bell. And it's very beautiful everybody always comments, it's very pink. But it changes the color of the sound. So I use it to actually kind of make the sound darker, and warmer, and richer. This is kind of a new thing, a new concept, even in the past five to ten years where we're using different woods to create different colors in the sound. Maybe darker, something that might project or be louder, something that would be softer, if you're playing chamber music. So, we can play around with it a little bit and have fun with all the accessories. ("Symphony No. 2, I. Allegro maestoso" by Gustav Mahler) This clarinet was made for me by a Canadian maker actually, Backun. And I worked with him, we tuned it, he added some keys, he bored out the instrument. And so I worked with him a lot on customizing it for me, for my fingers. The E-flat clarinet is great for me, I have really small hands. So, it fits me perfectly. And a lot of people who play B-flat clarinet when they start as kids, they play on E-flat because it's a little bit smaller. So, that's also a fun way to do it. But it's a fun instrument in that it is small, it fits me perfectly. So, I've worked with him to customize this and I helped him invent this barrel, actually. We had this cut away, it's flat, and it helps the reed fit on the barrel. So, I worked with him a lot with that and on the bell as well. The hole in the bell is a tuning, it's a vent, it just basically tunes, when you put all your fingers down this hole actually vents air as well because it's so short. So it helps to tune the lowest note there. ("Daphnis and Chloe - Suite No. 2" by Maurice Ravel) This was about third grade, I went to a music arts summer camp and you either do theater or play the clarinet or do something like that. And I wanted to do a musical instrument and I didn't know what. And I remember sitting on my grandfather's porch and talking to him. And he said, "You should play the clarinet. "Benny Goodman played the clarinet!" And I thought, "Oh, okay, great!" And I think probably I wouldn't have picked it if I'd have known there were so many little parts to it. ("Daphnis and Chloe - Suite No. 2" by Maurice Ravel) So, I did it in the summer and then I did like it. I grew up in a household that loved music. We had the Metropolitan Opera Saturday broadcast on in the house on Saturday afternoons all the time. But nobody made me practice, in fact my parents were actually very good about "You do what you want to do." I just started to grow and love the music, the clarinet, so much that I kept with it. And, you know, fifth grade, sixth grade I got into a youth orchestra and I loved playing in that. Playing Beethoven's First Symphony and playing all these wonderful pieces. And also I had friends, and it was so much fun. And I think I got very serious my senior year, my, actually probably junior, senior year of high school. So sixteen or seventeen years old. And I had an amazing teacher who really inspired me, Julie Vaverka. She was my teacher in Boston and she really inspired me. She was a wonderful musician, just completely opened the world up to me of what I could do musically. It was no longer about playing the clarinet, it was about being a musician. ("Daphnis and Chloe - Suite No. 2" by Maurice Ravel)