Klarinet Archive - Posting 000152.txt from 1993/12
From: Cary Karp <nrm-karp@-----.SE>
Subj: Re: Darkness/brightness of sound
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1993 14:46:11 -0500
On Thu, 9 Dec 1993, Tom Ascher wrote:
> Good to hear from someone who has actually DONE the spectral analysis!
> It confirms what I would think we all intuitively suspect. Brighter sound -
> more higher partials; darker sound - more lower partials. If you are
> correct in the surmise that darker sound equates with thicker reeds and
> brighter sound with thinner reeds, this would rationalize the use
> a thicker, or thinner reed. I notice that in catalog descriptions of
> various clarinets, especially the Leblanc, the more expensive models are
> referred to as darker. I wonder if they are thicker walled? Or possibly
> denser wood...?
I regretted the comment about reeds the moment I posted it. The notion of
"all other things being equal" doesn't apply to the actual playing
situation since I doubt that anybody would be able to use ABSOLUTELY the
same chops and support with no accommodation whatsoever for different reeds.
In extreme cases, such as using a reed which is clearly too hard, the
controlled case might be seen to apply to the playing situation.
I was at the Leblanc establishment in Kenosha a few weeks back and allowed
myself to be bowled over by their Concerto hype. I bought one because it
was clearly darker (in my frame of reference) than any other clarinet that I
own. Perhaps not coincidentally it is also far and away the thickest walled.
(I don't think that there is enough variation in the density of seasoned
grenadilla to make a difference, in any case.)
After a bit of soul-searching I realize that I rarely apply the notions
of dark and light to sound, regarding them instead as attributes of an
instrument. In some cases I can coax a listener into cognizantly hearing
what I regard as the audible extensions of the differences, but don't
really worry about it. In the above situation, I knew that I already
owned good light clarinets, but was interested in acquiring a dark one.
For my purposes it wouldn't have made any difference if not one single
other clarinetist used the terms to describe the same
I've never seen a program note to the effect that, "Ms X is known for her
dark sound", and if I walk into a music store saying that I'm looking for
"dark toned clarinets" you can be sure the person behind the counter will
say, "Sure, we got lots of 'em". So what are we fussing about?