The Clarinet World

CDs include.

Sacred SIte Improvisations 1999,2000,2001, 2003.

Improvised Clarinet Quartet Vol.I and II.

Improvised Clarinet Trio.

 

MB Publications is the publishing company of Mark Buckingham.

 

 

 

 

The clarinet sound world of Mark Buckingham, where you can hear the unique tones and timbres created using alternative playing techniques for the Bb clarinet, Bass clarinet and Contra Alto clarinet. A massive number of varied CDs and a vinly double album with Simon Yorke (www.recordplayer.com) are available. Technical details are presented for clarinetists to attempt to create some of the sounds. 

Scores of Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major arranged for Clarinet Quartet, Saxophone Quartet, Flute Quartet and by special arrangement instrumentation of your choice. An arrangement of Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night for Clarinet Choir Eb, 2xBb, 2x Alto 2x Bass, Contra Alto or Contra Bass Clarinets. I have recorded both of these works to prove the accuracy of the score and to give prospective purchasers an opportunity to hear it. No more arrangements are planned but commissions maybe undertaken. The first page of all the parts for the clarinet quartet and the saxophone quartet will be available as PDF files, for you to print off and have a go. The Schoenberg pages will be made available soon. Please contact me for purchasing details. honysax@live.co.uk 

Paganini's 24 Caprices arranged for Solo Saxophone and Solo Clarinet avaliable from Mark at honysax@live.co.uk or Howarths of London and June Emerson Wind Music.

On the technical page for the Alternative Sound World you will find details on how to play some of the same sounds that can be found on the CDs, Sacred Site Improvisations, Improvised Solo’s, Duo’s and Trio’s, Improvised Quartets etc. Fingering guides, lip pressure, air pressure, position etc. Mark is hopeing to produce a book of all the techniques he has mastered.

The resource page has been designed to give support to teachers who may have had Jammin’ The Blues brought to a lesson, or has decided to understand the art of creative music making. Jazz and improvisation has become so important in today’s curriculum that many teachers ‘fear’ improvisation. This page along with using the book will help teachers overcome the ‘block’ and then be able to support an interested pupil with confidence. Can you 'teach' improvisation?


Information has been presented on all the currently available CDs of Mark Buckingham with friends and family. The Cathedral Recordings, Improvised Duets with Theo Buckingham on drums, Tom Donald and Sirena Riley, Live at The Telegraph Vol II, Improvised Quartets, Improvised Sols's, Duo's and Trio's, Bach Suites arranged by Giampieri for solo clarinet with Stadler Caprices.

Alternative Sound World

 

Clarinet Sound World Techniques discusses and gives fingering examples of how to generate quarter-tones, micro-tones, multi-phonics etc. that Mark uses within his Improvisations. 6 CDs use these techniques. Latest being Improvised Quartets Vol.II see itunes soon.

History.

Mark Buckingham is a trained clarinet and saxophone player and untrained artist. He performs regularly on the Eb, Bb, Alto, Bass and Conra Alto clarinets and on the Alto and Tenor saxophone. 

Marks first tutors were Ronald Tench and Gil Hulme both from the Southampton area. He played in local big bands whilst at school he learnt to be a lead alto sax player. His teaching was always jazz inspired though he was trained to sight-read which became a specialty in later years. Artie Shaw’s concerto for clarinet was the first concerto he learnt. A recording of this work is in progress with piano accompaniment. 

After school Mark become a bandsman in the Army, which was where from the age of 18 first encouraged to teach. Since his brief service he has performed as a freelance musician and teacher. The experience and genres of music making over the last 20 years is to numerous to mention, but recordings of immense variety is available from the site.

Throughout all the years of Mark’s career improvisation has been an important focal point. Studying the jazz masters, funk masters, the improvisation that occurs in Western Art Music, the study of Japanese Zen flute players, Indian classical music and other music of various culture where improvisation is important. All these influences have been synthesized into the sounds that you can hear now. Marks clarinet playing has developed a new sound world, where improvisation is still paramount, which has traces of all the work and study over the years. An example of which is the Zen Flute where muliphonics has been common practice for 2000 years. To create these sounds on the clarinet took years of study and practice to be able to improvise fluently with all the new techniques. 

Mark has developed the art of improvising in this realm which uses microtonal, quarter tonal, multi phonic and aleatory techniques. The reason for this journey was inspired by the likes of Eric Dolphy whose musical sound world used these sounds on saxophone, which is fairly easy and bass clarinet which is not. To produce these sounds on clarinet was a major challenge. Mark intends to publish the techniques at a later date but realizes there are few players interested in this challenge. The tone of present day clarinetists was established by Stadler for whom Mozart wrote the concerto, since then very little has changed, until now. The techniques used allow Marks melody playing to have so many subtle nuances that you could not count them. For example he can play an E on the first line of the stave, which has almost 16 different tone colours, and with almost 10 pitches available between E and Eb, these possibilities are available throughout the clarinet range. Then add all the multi phonic possibilities and other techniques and you have a massive melodic and harmonic opportunity for the solo clarinet. Press ‘Alternatives Sound World Techniques’ to try some of them. 

Mark does not play in big bands any more because most bands have forgotten that it‘s the lead alto, which has a similar role to that of the leader of the orchestra, that has dynamic and phrase control over the whole band. Mark learnt the big band art of playing from his teacher Gil who ran a professional dance band during the thirties and forties and from the musicians of the local bands who where all veterans of the big band era. Still waiting for a proper band to ask me to play.

Alternative Sound World Techniques
 

Introduction To The Clainet Sound World

There many different techniques that you will hear on the different CDs that Mark has created. Just a few have been discribed on these pages. Mark will cataloge his work in time and publish the results. What you have noticed is the standard Bb clarinet is very open to this work as is the bass clarinet, the alto clarinet is causing many problems. The contra alto alternative sound world is amazing. This will be made avalible on Marks CD the 'Improvised Quartets'. Two have been recorded and more are planned. As you can guess each instrument has it's own particular fingering requirements as well as lip pressure and air pressure techniques making it very difficult.

Quartertones 

Below is an examble of the fingering Mark uses to generate quartertones. Quartertones are notes that are found half way between semitones. There are 4 quartertones in a tone.

 

 

 

Microtonal

Below is an examble of the techniques Mark uses. Microtones are tones found betweem the semitones of our tempered scale. There are uncountable possibilities.
 

 

 

 

Multiphonics

Multiphonics means to generate more than one sound at a time. All instruments produce a multitude of tones which is why we can tell the difference between one instrument and another. The area in which Mark is working is to find these tones and enlarge them so that they can be defined. Mark has then developed them, for examble, so that he can play a trill in the low register and have two or three very clear sounds floating above in the upper register.


 

 

 

 

 

Aleatory (Latin 'A Game Of Dice')

This is a very interesting area, aleatory means chance. Within musical realms one has no idea of the resulting sounds that will be generated from a given set fingering, lip pressures, air pressure, clarinet position and embrosure position.

 

 

 

 

Monophonics

The use of artifical harmonics and natural harmonics. The clarinet is easily able to sound bugle calls, play middle B and with lip pressure gradually pitch the first harmonic above the B, F# should sound. This can be used all the way up to produce what is known as the harmonic series. The F# we have created can be acheived by using different fingering this is termed as artifical harmonics. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The unique Sound World of the clarinet playing of Mark Buckingham

Mark plays; Bb, Alto, Bass, Contra Bass and Eb clarinets.

Published Scores

 

Ravel’s String Quartet In F Major. Clarinet Quartet. Saxophone Quartet.

This was my first score completed, if you know the Quartet you'll understand why it was chosen. For string players it is very difficult piece to play let alone perform, so for clarinet players it is a very serious challenge. It has been arranged for two Bb, alto and bass clarinets. Similar in voicing to the string quartet. It is true to Ravel's score, there has been no rearrangement of the parts. An extra page has been added to the alto part page 11 because it was insanely difficult to play with grace. The original version has been printed but the easier page is enclosed with the score so that the alto player has a choice. The original key of F Major has been kept for the clarinet parts, so the quartet sounds in Eb. To change to the original sounding key would have made the parts even harder hence the decision to write in F Major.


The idea of arranging the quartet was so that established performing clarinet quartets could have the option of performing an arrangement of a whole of a string quartet, because not many quartets of any composers have been arranged or written for clarinets. Looking at the catalogues there are not many pieces at all. This arrangement should address that balance a little. It will know doubt be of interest to college and university where student clarinet quartets have been formed. Also to the terrific amateur quartets that their are around the world. It is not suitable for beginner quartet as the parts can be seriously hard to play. They will challenge serious players as it is.
To prove the accuracy of the arrangement the piece has been recorded by Mark Buckingham and is available on CD. The arrangement, the performing of all the parts, the recording of the parts and the mixing was achieved by Mark. As you can imagine that task was immense. On the recording there are a few weak areas and some occasional recording problems but not often. What is obvious is how brilliant the quartet is for clarinet players. To play a quartet all by yourself was a bit lonely and is very hard to achieve the normal flow that a regularly practicing quartet could achieve.

Since completing the original clarinet quartet the piece is now available for Saxophone quartet, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone. A specific arrangement of different instrumentation can be supplied. Please contact honkysax@live.co.uk.  

Schoenberg's Transfigured Night. Arranged For Clarinet Choir

The second MB Publication arrangement is Schoenberg's Transfigured Night For String Orchestra arranged for Clarinet Choir. This was an immense challenge. The piece has been arranged from the orchestral score for Eb, 2x Bb, 2x Alto, 2x Bass and Contra Alto or Contra Bass Clarinets. The piece is written in the original key of the string orchestra for the clarinets. The piece is as true to the score as possible but rearrangements has had to happen. Most clarinet players do not sound 2 or 3 notes together, which is easy for strings (the CD Improvisations of Mark Buckingham, Sacred Site Improvisations and the CDs of Improvised Trios and Quartets will demonstrate the multiphonic as well all sorts of tonal possibilities of the clarinet.(link) has been written out of the arrangement. The last two pages of the sting piece are so difficult to play on the clarinet that these have been technically simplified. The notes have remained the same, as has the rhythm but the octaves in which the notes occur have been altered. The aim of this arrangement is for serious clarinet choirs everywhere. This piece is a real challenge, but hugely rewarding. The arrangement like the Ravel has been recorded and is available as a mp3 download (example on mp3 above). All the parts where played, recorded, engineered and mixed by Mark Buckingham. This was done to prove the accuracy of the score and its playability. It works. The low bass part on this recording was the contra alto clarinet.

Schoenberg's Transfigured Night. Arranged For Clarinet Choir

Only 10 copies are available.

Contact me if you desire the score.

Permission form Universal Editions has been granted and the licence fee paid. The cost of the score includes those fees. There will only be 10 copies made available unless demand is sufficient to reprint, so order ASAP to secure your score. £100 and includes conductor score.

 

Niclolo Paganini’s 24 Capricci For Violin Arranged For Solo Clarinet And Solo Saxophone.

The Caprices have been carefully arranged and thoroughly checked, and is as accurate to the original score as possible. Because the range of the violin is so high many passages have been lowered by one sometimes two octaves. Where ostinato passages occurred with large intervals these have been narrowed to promote fluency. There has been hardly any note changes other than those absolutely necessary. One note was an error in the original score that many editors seemed to have missed. The Capricci has not been compromised to produce this arrangement. They are very difficult to perform but I have played every one to make sure they will be an interesting and a useful addition to the clarinet repertoire.
The keys have not been altered from the original score. Paganini wrote the Caprices as a challenge to violinists I have continued that tradition for the clarinet
I have assumed that the range of performers who wish to use this arrangement is capable of fluency to high A. It was found to be inadequate on some of the caprices when the upper parts where lowered so the high notes have stayed. Please contact honkysax@live.co.uk and I will produce a lowered version for you.
On the web site you will find a 2nd clarinet accompaniment to some of the caprices that had multiple parts for the violinist. Please download and enjoy as a duet.

The arrangement is as true to Paganini’s score as is possible for an accomplished clarinetist or Saxophonist to manage. They are very difficult!. 

Teachers Resource Page

 

Jammin The Blues

Jammin' the Blues series of books designed for young and beginner musicians to learn to improvise published by Kevin Mayhew.

The 'Jammin’ The Blues' series of books are now available from this website and selected music shops. The books are for Bb, Eb and Concert instruments. A pair of books for Guitar with tab and Bass Guitar with tab is also available. All these products enclose a CD,which contains piano grooves and the Grunt Production band on five tracks plus a tuning up track.

This is a series of books that have been designed for young and beginner musicians to learn to improvise. The title Jammin’ the Blues is very apt. The books carefully take students through the blues scales, which are the basis of the blues and jazz playing. The enclosed CD then offers players an opportunity to really practice improvising. The CD contains 15 tracks, 5 of which are with a blues band, the GP Ensemble, a total of over 50 minutes of music for the player to accompany. They are designed not to impose on the young or beginner player but to allow them freedom to find their musical voice. The first scale to learn is the G minor blues scale and the book then goes through other scales so the player can eventually play a standard blues sequence in 2 keys. Memory of the sales is important so that the developing musician is not reading from the book but using their ear and heart.

The main emphasis of the book is to take your time. Some players take months to master just one of the techniques, this is normal so the essence is not to rush. I have taught this method to players for 15 years and some of these players have been 9 and 10 years old all with great success. They learn and gain a great sense of achievement in the process however long it takes. The important thing to note from the book is all scales need to be played from memory.


 

 

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Can You 'Teach' Improvisation

 

Improvisation or creative music making has certainly become a major talking point during the last couple of years. How to teach improvisation or to facilitate a creative musical environment has left many teachers scratching their heads. There seems to be very little support material to draw on to help overcome the misgivings people may have with how to deal with egger students wishing to learn. What is available is fine in theory but not so easy to put into practice. 

The initial question is can improvisation be taught, this needs to be answered. With 25 years of teaching experience primarily addressing jazz and blues I feel the answer is no. What a tutor needs to enable a student to learn is not the notion that he/she is able to teach improvisation but to establish in the lesson a creative musical environment where the student can feel comfortable and secure enough to experiment and search and find their own musical voice. This can only be achieved if the tutor is confident in that creative musical process. This is where a majority of problem lies. 

Most musical training is very much centred on reading and examination taking, but the balance of adding creative processes has been ignored. The examination boards have realized the need to add ‘jazz’ to their financially motivated system, but have still managed to leave the first stages of improvising unaddressed. This has again left tutors who in the main have had the normal training in Western Art Music struggling. 

Many tutors I have meet over the years actually fear improvisation, and obviously have no hope, until that fear is addressed, in ‘teaching’ improvisation. It is time for many tutors to learn the techniques necessary to facilitate a creative musical space. The books that I have created have been designed to help young and beginner musicians start on a creative musical journey. But since publication teachers have commented on how it has helped them address their reticence toward improvisation and have enabled them to encourage their students with success. The booklet layout is very simple so as to allow 10 year olds to understand it and slowly guides the students of jazz and blues through a number of musical and learning processes that will allow creative playing to be expressed. The booklet has been designed to be used as a reference to the recordings on the CD (50mins). Each CD contains 15 tracks, 6 of which have drums and bass added to the piano. Track one is for tuning. The whole musical structure of the series is based on the blues scales and the book can take a student to the point where they are playing the complete blues sequences in G minor and C minor on any instrument. Each tracks is almost four minutes long so that there is plenty of time for experimentation to take place before the track needs to be repeated. One of the most emphasized issues within the series is to take as much time with each section before moving on, even if it is months. If attempted to fast important realisations or improvising experience will not be absorbed fully. So I continually stress not to rush. This is an issue tutors may find difficult because often there is immense pressure from parents, schools etc to have results or quantifiable development. Improvisation development is not gradable in normal experience because each individuals musical ideas are different and dependent on their playing facility and must be allowed to form naturally. Tutors must not rush their pupils but have faith in the long-term objectives of helping somebody to improvise and not to feel pressured by outside forces. 

In each ½ hour lesson only 10 –15 minutes can be given over creative musical playing so a teachers has to be content with little or sometimes no progress whilst the student absorbs and feels the improvisation process. A very relevant term here is ‘feel’. You are creating a space for a pupil to hear and create their own musical voice within the structure of the blues idiom. Feel is one of the main objectives of my book and yours as a teacher. We are endeavouring to help players feel the music they are playing so that listeners of their performances in later years can benefit. To have the patience and an objective view of the improvising process to allow the student to musically grow with your guidance is difficult and a challenge in today’s results or else environment. Patience is paramount. Those wishing or needing to address the issue of improvising will find an ally in my books. It is ideal for tutors who have a fear of improvising to follow the guidance in the books and can then pass the process on to their students from a position of understanding and confidence. Understanding and confidence is vital to the creative musical process you are trying to develop within a lesson, for you and the student, add patience and you have all the necessary tools.

- Mark Buckingham Apr '05

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