E♭M30 vs Hawkins Update

I thought I would write an update on my previous post about E♭clarinet mouthpieces. In that post I kind of claimed M30 as the winner for me, but earlier this week I had an audition for which I had to be extremely objective  and choose what I really think would be the one that the judges would like to hear.

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The Hall

For me, whatever the listeners hear, you have to accommodate their soundstage more than anything.

After research I learned the hall in which the audition would take place would be pretty big, and I knew the Hawkins had a beefier and more massive sound than the M30. Beefier/ more round sound usually means to me that the sound while in close proximities might sound too fluffy/ scuzzy, it also will thin out less as it travels to the back of the hall from the stage.

However, I am almost certain that for recording settings in which my clarinet would be mic’ed closely, I would use a more free-blowing and less heavy set up because whatever the mic picks up, it wouldn’t really thin out in mixing. Whereas if I use a much fluffier and more round-sounding mouthpiece, the mic might pick up much more fluff (spit, leaky air, reed vibrating like a 4×4, etc.) than the actual sound itself, which would be tougher to mix to produce an “accurate” clarinet sound.

If the audition was in a much tinier room (which does happen!), I think I would have gone with the M30, because the sound wouldn’t thin out very much in that room, and the fluff would again might just get in the way of you and also the audience.

My Dilemma

M30

  • easy to control (but needs more active tongue because it does need to be controlled)
  • easier to blow (less resistant)
  • good, consistent intonation (but generally quite high when warmed up, so I learned)
  • good sound (but not as special as Hawkins)
  • good for smaller rooms and recording sessions

Hawkins

  • easier articulation emission without too much control (perhaps due to shorter facing than the M30…I believe M30 is longer)
  • more resistant
  • good intonation (closer to professional American pitch when warmed up)
  • warm and colourful sound (trademark of Hawkins)
  • good for bigger spaces

Honestly, because the E♭clarinet is so tiny and less easy for me to navigate than other clarinets, I had always put my own comfort as numero uno (hence M30, which is easier for me to play in terms of resistance than the Hawkins). However from recording and listening to my practice run-throughs of Symphonie Fantastique (there and many leaps of intervals and many that need to be articulated with 110% enthusiasm, leaving you with little time to position your tongue properly for optimal-sounding articulations) I realized although the M30 is very nice and light, it sometimes missed some of the articulations I had attempted. However on the Hawkins, my articulations were much more accurate by stats.

I find short facing mouthpieces have the innate ability to produce crisp articulation as if it is defaulted to do that. Maybe more like a manual-drive car, M30 requires more involvement of my tongue to produce the equally immediate articulation and in fact I think it is in many cases more thuddy (and less crisp) even when the tonguing happens. However, I find if the pieces have many consecutive fast articulated notes, it’s much easier for me to control the high speed of articulation on longer mouthpieces than it is on the shorter mouthpieces where past a certain tempo things get kind of YOLO-esque and sometimes not very successful. Again, that is just how my tongue is as of now.

Why I chose to play on the Hawkins for the Audition

It’s simple. Articulation and intonation. The excerpts I had to play for this particular audition were not particularly fast articulations-heavy. I have had some teachers tell me some dorky audition committee members would literally have their tuners out during auditions behind the screen. Dorky or not, if this is a possibility, Hawkins is obviously a safer choice than the M30. On a side note, if I were playing in a pit where my e-flat clarinet had to be played suddenly after sitting in the abyssal depths of AC coldness (why do that always do that??), I would probably use my M30, because the Hawkins might be way too flat after sitting in the cold for ages.

Thank you for reading, and I wish you a great week!

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