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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000045.txt from 1993/12

From: Jordan Selburn <jselburn@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: Sound of reeds
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1993 21:36:10 -0500

>David L. Shea writes:
>> ... nobody in the audience notices any difference from times one
>> feels that they have a good sound and reed...
>I'll agree with that. Once I played Mendelssohn's "Overture in C"
>in a band concert (the piece is a real workout for the clarinets,
>and I was the only first clarinet). I started on a reed that felt
>horribly soft, switched partway through the piece, and ended on a
>reed that felt much too hard. When I listened to the resulting
>tape, I couldn't hear any difference.

Well, time to stop lurking and start writing (thinking first, preferably -
but by no means guaranteed!). Back when I was taking lessons, my teacher
(David Breeden) deliberately made two recordings of the same passage - once
with a good reed, once with a bad one. Upon playback, he couldn't tell
which was which. I guess that this would tend to confirm what Dan and some
others have maintained - that the reed is at most a secondary contributor
to the overall sound quality. But you sure have to work harder with a bad

But . . . secondary and tertiary factors can have an effect! A few years
ago a repairman noticed that I had an "old-style" tube going from the
register key into the bore, and that a newer one might play better. He
replaced it, and the pitch on my throat tones definately improved - a
quantitative and measurable effect. Also, I recently replaced my Rovner
ligature with a Bonade, and several people with ears I trust have commented
that my sound is better and I'm projecting more. Qualitative, yes, but
still there.

What can I conclude, but that there are numerous factors that influence
one's sound? I think the best that we can hope for is that the hardware
(instrument, reed, etc.) interferes as little as possible with the sound
that we desire. A good player is simply better able to overcome the
limitations imposed by the equipment than a lesser player.

And I'm still looking for a clarinet/reed/magic feather/whatever that keeps
me from playing wrong notes!


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