Air Flow vs. Air Pressure

Air Flow and Air Pressure

Understanding the difference between air flow and air pressure is really important in order to better understand clarinet articulation!

Air flow: blowing air through the clarinet; air is moving.

You need air pressure to make air flow.

However…. you can have air pressure without having air flow.  If you blow into your clarinet and then put your tongue on the reed, air flow stops and you are left with air pressure getting built up behind the reed.

To live between the two worlds, put the tiniest bit of tongue on the reed while blowing so you have pressure and flow at the same time.  This will almost sound like a hum!

Try this clarinet articulation exercise!

First, play with 100% air flow, then move your tongue to where you have 50% flow and 50% pressure (hum tone), and then move it again to have 100% air pressure.

Experiment with where and how you place your tongue to get these sounds!

This idea is essential in understanding articulation!  You don’t always need to completely stop the sound when articulating.  For example, if you are playing a passage with fast articulation, you’ll want to still have the tiniest bit of flow so that your articulation isn’t harsh.  If you try to cut off the sound completely on each articulation it will be harder to go faster and lighter!

Want to learn more?  Download our free Articulation Builder here!

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