This project was inspired by some of my favorite multiphonics, which are soft, delicate, close dyads.
I originally encountered a couple through pieces that used them (e.g. the Berio Clarinet Sequenza) and then found a few others by fiddling around with similar fingerings.
Cue COVID 19 and with a lot of time on my hands I decided to properly explore and document this kind of multiphonic.
After some experimentation, I realized the common thread between these multiphonics is that they are produced by using the thumb, register, G#, A, and side trill keys in "non standard" combinations to function as a kind of disruptive pseudo register key, with “standard” lower fingerings in the rest of the left and right hands (i.e. fingerings usually used to produce “normal” notes). Because I'm a nerd I've been calling them pseudo-register multiphonics, a term which is guaranteed not to catch on.
You can browse and listen to the multiphonics sorted by fingering or pitch via the menu bar above, or select Key for the key to fingering abbreviations and diagrams.
By trying the possible fingerings methodically, I was able to discover a number of multiphonics I hadn’t encountered before. I recorded each multiphonic, and notated the pitches to the closest quarter tone using analysis software. There is some overlap with other multiphonic charts including Rehfeldt and the excellent work of Heather Roche & Jack Liang (see notes below fingerings). I was happy to find that in most cases the pitches I achieved were extremely close to those in Roche and Liang.
There’s clearly a pattern to the pitches generated by each set of fingerings works, and there are almost certainly multiphonics on either side of the subsets that worked on my instrument that will work for other people. I also restricted myself to "standard" lower fingerings, so there are many other possibilities with extra keys added, or e.g. leaving some holes uncovered. The pitch of the bottom note seems to be controlled by the "pseudo-register" fingering chosen, while the pitch of the top note is roughly controlled by the "standard" fingering (i.e. how many holes are covered). I'd love to hear from anyone who can explain more about the acoustic physics of why this happens!
This is not intended as a resource for composers to add multiphonics to their pieces! Most of these multiphonics are a) hard to produce and dynamically not flexible at all and b) not tested by anyone else except me – it’s possible many if not most of them either won’t work or will have different results for other players. It was intended to satisfy my own curiosity, and is hopefully useful as a map for other players or researchers to help find additional multiphonics.
Dr. Jack Liang is a freelance musician and private teacher in the Greater Vancouver area.He compiled an incredibly extensive and detailed list of multiphonics as part of his doctoral research project.
You can download a chart via his resources page.
Heather Roche is a Canadian-born, London-based new music clarinetist who has created one of the most expansive and useful online resources on new music performance available.
Bret Pimentel is a multiple woodwind player and Associate Professor of Music at Delta State University. His indispensable Fingering Diagram Builder is just one of a number of excellent resources available on his website.
Rehfeldt's New Directions for Clarinet is one of the seminal texts for clarinet extended techniques, with sections on multiphonics, microtonal fingerings, and many other techniques. I find his multiphonic charts hit and miss in terms of the pitches generated, but they are often a valuable jumping off point.
SPEAR is an application for audio analysis, editing and synthesis. The analysis procedure attempts to graphically represent a sound with many individual sinusoidal tracks (partials). You can also export analysis data, e.g. as a csv file.