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

Created by All Star Orchestra.

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Video transcript

("Symphony No. 5" by Dmitryi Shostakovich) - This is the E-flat clarinet also known 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 mini me of the clarinet. And this particular instrument has been customized for me and this is tulipwood barrel. This is what we call the barrel. So this is the mouth piece 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 tulipwood barrel and this is Granadillo wood and then this is also a tulipwood 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 10 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 some fun with all the accessories. ("Symphony No. 2" 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 'cause it's a little bit smaller. So that's also a fun way to do it but it's, 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, its 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 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 could 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, "Well you should play the clarinet, Benny Goodman played the clarinet." And I thought okay great and I think probably I wouldn't have picked it if I had known there was 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 wanna do. And I just started to grow and love the music, the clarinet so much that I kept with it. You know fifth grade and 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. Actually probably junior, senior year of high school. So 16, 17 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 clarinet it was about being a musician. ("Daphnis and Chloe - Suite No. 2" by Maurice Ravel)