[Dixielandjazz] Clarinet Mouthpieces

Edgerton, Paul A paul.edgerton at eds.com
Wed Oct 12 14:39:55 PDT 2005

> I am convinced that most great clarinet players of the past - 
> including the ones that we think of being very loud - did not
> use such an open facing.

I tried a 5JB and still have one, but I don't use it.  My Charles Bay
mouthpiece has an O-L facing which seems more like a middle-of-the-road
B45 than a 5JB.  The tip opening has little to do with the volume
produced.  After all, symphony clarinetists typically play a huge range
of dynamics using TINY tip openings.  A more moderate facing affords
more control and allows the use of harder reeds than do excessively
large facings.

> Do you reckon bands are louder today?

On one hand, amplified basses and pianos, loud drummers and sound
reinforcement for everything has become so commonplace that musicians
who eschew these things (like Jim Cullum) are a rarity, and many
musicians do not know how to blend in such circumstances.

On the other hand, some bands (like Turk Murphy) were famous for their
"take no prisoners" intensity.  The Condon mob was certainly capable of
producing some rather loud music.

On the gripping hand, I think it comes down to a question the performing
musician's sensibilities and values.  It doesn't have to be loud to be
good, but louder is better for many audiences.

> Jelly Roll Morton said the music should be played "soft, sweet with
> plenty of rhythm."

That sounds like a good idea, but Jelly himself had pretty much fallen
out of favor in the 30's when bigger bands were the thing.

> What is the difference between a 'loud' clarinet and a clarinet with
> great projection?

How about years of working, often outdoors or without a PA system, and
still having to get up over the brass and drums four or five hours at a

-- Paul Edgerton

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list