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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000141.txt from 1995/01

From: David Lechner <dlechner@-----.NET>
Subj: pitch of older instruments
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 1995 02:34:15 -0500

A few days ago there was a posting which raised a question I'd been
wanting to pursue for a while. A few months back there was an extended
discussion of metal clarinets. About the same time, I took a C melody
sax in to my local repair shop to ask about the cost of refurbishing this
horn, which I picked up years ago in a pawn shop. The repairman remarked,
"Well, you're lucky -- this horn is stamped `low pitch': if it were `high
pitch' you wouldn't be able to play it with anyone using a modern horn."
The horn is a Buescher "True Tone" model which (according to an article
someone referred me to in _Saxophone Journal_) would date from the
1930's. To make this relevant to the clarinet (and to come to the
point), was there a comparable low pitch/high pitch dichotomy for
clarinets (metal or otherwise) manufactured early in this century and --
if so -- what should one watch out for today with regard to older
instruments? Or is this all another "urban legend" concocted by my local
repairman? If there is some truth behind all this (older instruments
manufactured to a variety of "standard" pitches), what's the history
behind it? It sort of calls to mind visions of Prof. Harold Hill and
small town bands of "River City" Iowa and a world in which pitch was
extremely relative but in which no one seemed to worry much about it.


David Lechner


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