Recording with the Clarinet

Yesterday I did a recording session on the clarinet. It's not something I do too often but I'm always up for a challenge. :-)

Recording is quite different from live playing. Yes, you'll need the same skills you need when you play live; playing in tune, interpreting / expressing the music appropriately, and have a good tone. The only difference here is that a recording documents your playing - FOREVER!!! (The pressure is on!)

You'll want to do your best so, you'll need to prepare well. I started with my basic warm-up exercises, (Check out the previous article here.) and I played a few scales before recording. I did this recording session at home via internet, so the atmosphere was relaxed. This also gave me a chance to try out a few things:

  1. For the clarinet - Should I play my Vandoren Profile 88, 7JB, or my Vandoren B45 mouthpiece? Both are good all-round mouthpieces, but the 7JB is more for jazz clarinetists, or saxophonists who double on clarinet in Big Band (in my opinion). The tip-opening is larger and facing is a little longer than most clarinet mouthpieces. The sound is somewhat brighter and louder. The B45 is a good for more classical-oriented situations. It has a darker, rounder tone. I play a Legére synthetic reed (3 1/2) on the clarinet. If you don't like synthetics, I also use Vandoren 3 ½ reeds.
  2. Microphone positions - I use a back electret condenser microphone with a Focusrite Scarlet Solo USB recording interface on my iMac using Apple's Logic Pro software. In order to avoid getting too much of any airy sound on the recording, I would record about a 12 inches (15 cm) away from the mic. I'll try using a rug or carpet underneath my chair and mic. I used a "pop screen" on the mic, and I positioned the mic between my two hands on the instrument. What I had to play on the recording were mainly "throat tones". That means the range between low D up to the middle C over the break. It is in this register of the clarinet, especially around open G, A, and the B over the break, where sound, intonation, and smooth fingering is quite critical. 
  3. Equalization or "EQ" - I was allowed to deliver the file with EQ but without reverb. While recording I'll use reverb but I turn it off before delivering the file. Since this piece I had to play was more classical-oriented, I went for an EQ that was warmer, less bright. Here, I just use whatever standard settings my software provides me. The client will have the track mixed and put whatever effects on it themselves. So, this is nothing for you to worry about. Your only concern is to deliver a good quality performance.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please share them below.

Happy practicing!

Evan Tate

Leave a comment