The Clarinet as Extension of the Voice and Expressive Conduit of Musical Styles in Diverse Ensembles
Original research into the links between vocal and clarinet tone reveals how clarinettists act as expressive conduits of musical styles in diverse ensembles. This research is relevant to musicologists and anthropologists as well as clarinettists and composers, who wish to gain an understanding of the vocal links in clarinet playing, and how clarinettists function in socio-musical contexts. Research is mainly based on Musicology and Music Education (vocal-clarinet links), and also refers to sources in Anthropology (musical identity), and Ethnomusicology (music in ensembles) in order to find some insightful connections. Ethnographic fieldwork is based on four professional freelance clarinettists in four different ensembles in Wellington, New Zealand. Their function in western art and contemporary art music, jazz and klezmer music is explored, to discover how these clarinettists extend, mirror, partner, or replace the voice in these musical contexts. Additional work undertaken on bodymind integration is designed to complement the musical identity work in the thesis and to enhance the musicianship and physical wellbeing of clarinettists. The section on clarinet design illustrates how different combinations of instruments and mouthpieces can vary the tone quality of the clarinet and enhance individual playing styles. The research shows that due to the versatility and flexibility of the instrument, clarinettists are able to transcend gender, ethnic, and ensemble boundaries, to take on leadership roles and to act as expressive conduits of musical styles in and between diverse ensembles. The outcome of the research highlights the intersection between the physiological relationship between the voice and the clarinet and scholarship on musical identity.