Is She Singing or Is That a Clarinet?

Clarinet Crossing

Friday, October 23, 2009 - 08:53 AM

Since the first panpipes, musicians have attempted to imitate the human voice in non-vocal music. 

Some say the cello, clarinet or viola is best suited to imitate the human voice; Chopin even tried to train his piano to sing. Saturday on Q2 with Terrance McKnight, we're giving special attention to music written for the clarinet. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Do you think that the clarinet most closely resembles the voice? If not, which instrument and or instrumental composition does?


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Comments [13]

Joel Wilson from Area code 954

Double reed instruments have guttural overtones. The bassoon is a low pitched man and the oboe is like other men and women. String instruments are good at mimicking the mouth forming various consonant shapes; the L, the R, the W.

Nov. 05 2009 09:10 PM
Saskia from NYC

just came across your show last week. Would love to be able to hear some old shows. Are they available at all? I see no reference on the site..

Nov. 04 2009 09:47 AM
Dan from Brooklyn

Hi Terrance-- I'm an old WQXR listener and have enjoyed getting to know you a bit on Symphony Hall since the switch. Keep up the good work!

The title of your blog post reminded me of a wonderful recording of Haydn's Die Schoepfung conducted by John Elliot Gardiner, with Sylvia McNair in the role of Gabriel. There a moment in Part I, during her rendition of Mit Staunen sieht das Wunderwerk, where the (extraordinarily good) recording leaves it unclear whether you're hearing the clarinet or Ms. McNair's singing. Really extraordinary.

Oct. 31 2009 02:41 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey

Greg Schlachter-

Thanks for giving us John Luther Adams.


Oct. 29 2009 09:17 PM
Tom, Cooper Sq.

My guess is that as a young music student, Bach studied with Johann Cristoph, who was a student of Johann Pachelbel and offered the music of Johann Jakob Froeberger to Bach. A reasonable bet is that Bach wanted distinction from this line of names, and therefore styled himself as "Sebastian". It might even be that Cristoph began referring to the lad as 'Young able Sebastian" for his clever improvs... as a complimentary distinction. Ciao, T

Oct. 29 2009 07:34 PM
Greg Schlachter from Haines, Alaska

Hi Terrance,

It is great to finish off my work day listening to you via Just thought I'd let you know you have daily listeners in rural Alaska. Thanks for the great shows.


Greg Schlachter
Expedition Broker
Haines, Alaska 99827

Oct. 29 2009 07:19 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey


I think it is hard to say that WQXR failed. I mean, you know, I have been plain from the first news: I thought it had been going down hill for at least two decades; but there has been a lot of love expressed for WQXR in these comment pages.

What is failing is the New York Times, which has already taken money from non-US sources, and needed this money desperately.


Oct. 27 2009 11:28 PM
Pete from New Jersey


The flip side of your argument is that WQXR failed and had to be bought by WNYC, which is choosing to use the latter as talk and the former for its new mix of WQXR's and WNYC's music (sub-?)formats.

Like Rayna, I too miss Evening Music, and I miss having the choice of two classical music stations (at least at some times of the day), but I also recognize that the classical music audience is so small that it must be preserved rather than alienated, and that WNYC/WQXR management will compromise that mix of formats in ways that won't please everyone.

Oct. 27 2009 07:46 PM
Frank Feldman

Dear Rayna,
That would be a legitimate request if Terrence and David had only WNYC listeners to placate. But that is not the case. WNYC made it's decision to trash music and give its precious bandwidth to talk. The station is called WQXR and WQXR it should remain.

Oct. 26 2009 07:56 PM
Rayna from West Orange, NJ

Loved your clarinet show, Terrance. Listening to whatever they call your 7-10 program now and you're sounding a bit more like yourself. Nevertheless, here is the e-mail I just sent off to "Listener Services," (who might as well be the wizard of oz, for all its accessibility). I am asking all the other Evening Music junkies to send a similar plea to Oz.

I was distraught when WNYC went to daytime talk, but at least I knew that I could look forward to David Garland's and Terrance McKnight's insightful, quirky, eclectic, intelligent music choices and literate commentary. I think I have e-mailed about this before, but it bears another e-mail. WNYC (WQXR by any other name) hired Terrance for just those qualities and he developed a loyal following during his year on the air in NY. I must admit I was not happy about having David Garland only on weekends, but his personality remained intact while Terrance's evolved.

ALAS, you have neutered both of them to the point that they are not allowed to be themselves. Where is Terrance's conversation and love of music? Where is the bonding with listeners?

Gone!! He might as well be a robot, playing music someone has selected to appeal to the middle of the road listener. Where is his commentary? I am listening now to what sounds like a piece of Bach elevator music-- easy listening and boring. There is plenty of good classical music -- but where is WNYC's wonderful library? And where is the REAL Terrance?

Please - give us back our beloved Evening Music where the Bach can be alternated with some of the music on Q2.

As far as Q2 - nice try, but it's not there. We have the music on Q2 but I can't get it in my car -- and now, there is no choice if I want to hear classical music as I drive. It's back to my CD's.
Terrance on Q2 is great, but only at 10 pm? How about on QXR from 7-11 every night??

Please, please listen to those of us who need Terrance to be Terrance and David to be David and give us back Evening Music.

Oct. 26 2009 07:25 PM
Katherine Sacksteder from New York City

Speaking of the human voice, I want to let Terrence know how much I am beginning to enjoy his voice in the evenings, now that I have gotten used to it, although I am glad that I can still listen to Midge Woolsey during the day.

Oct. 26 2009 01:39 PM

Great show. So glad to hear you in your natural element. I had thought for some reason that this would be streamed during the week. No way???

Oct. 24 2009 11:59 PM
Neil from Brooklyn

Hi Terrance. Glad we found your show on the new station. The clarinet is the most agreeable musical instrument, second only to the piano.

Oct. 24 2009 10:16 PM

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