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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000396.txt from 1994/05

From: Cary Karp <nrm-karp@-----.SE>
Subj: No spring can vibrate forever
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 13:13:31 -0400

The sound of a violin is the result of air being set in motion by the
vibration of the body of the instrument. The body, in turn, is driven by
a complex mechanical system consisting of the bow, strings and bridge.

The sound of a clarinet is the result of air set in motion by the
vibration of the reed being fed through a highly sophisticated amplifier.
The internal dimensions of the instrument, mouthpiece included, determine
the shape of this glorified megaphone. The body of the instrument causes
significant frequency-dependent loss of energy from the air column.
(Different materials may have different damping properties.) The
vibration in the body that occurs as this energy is absorbed does not
contribute to the direct acoustic output of the player/reed/instrument
system. Similarly, a vibrating violin string, in itself, outputs almost no
acoustic energy.

Violin bodies wear out the same way reeds (or any other springs) do, but
the process takes orders of magnitude longer. (Reeds are also subject to
the negative consequences of being slobbered upon, which I don't think is
a particular problem with violins.)

We're talking about complex coupled vibrating systems here, and it is
naive in the extreme to expect to be able to understand them on anything
other than the most superficial level without putting a good deal more
effort into their study than simply querying this list time and time again
with the same old questions. (Sorry -- but the "Klarinet experience" is
starting to strike me as uncomfortably repetitive.)

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