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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000160.txt from 1995/01

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.EDU>
Subj: Words!!! Words!! Words! Words
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 1995 22:03:53 -0500

Over the past two years on this list I have been continuously,
repetitively, and probably boringly critical of the use of
accepted but blindingly unclear words used to describe the
character of the clarinet's tone and have offered an assertion
(not necessarily a truth) that "dark" and "clear" and such of
buzz words are not at all helpful in understanding the
character of sound that is achieved by any player.

We never really came to any resolution of this issue, not that
I expected one, but everyone had an opportunity to express
their views so that was helpful. The bottom line was that some
people find these words helpful and descriptive, while others
find them equivalent to a clarinet player's trip to Disneyland.

Recently I received a copy of the LeBlanc Corporation's catalog
of clarinets available for sale and was fascinated by the
tremedous array of products that are on sale from them. I was
also impressed by the obviously professional and exquisite
photo display of their instruments, so beautifully photographed,
with flowers and patterened papers, the layout so well done.
Whoever is driving the marketing arm of LeBlanc's business
knows how to do it very well. The person should get a raise.

However (isn't there always a 'however'?), the department of
"giving descriptions to the various tonal properties of the
LeBlanc family of clarinets" (the "GDVTPLFC") is in serious
need of additional and depictive ways to characterize the kinds
of tones that can be achieved from this spendid family of

The 1190S and 1190AS Opus models are said to have a
"mature, rich tone [that] possesses great evenness, directness
and power." (Mature??? Rich??)

The 1189 Concerto model "tends to produce a tone that is more
flexible and lyrical than the Opus." (Flexible??? Lyrical??)

The 1142 and 1142A Enternite models have only "a clear tone."
(Forgive me. I do not have the French "egu" in my character
set for Internet.)

But the 1188 and 1188A Infinite models offer "a more youthful
tone..." (Youthful???????)

The LX2000 is said to have "a tone of remarkable clarity and
center, yet it is flexible, deep and mellow. [It] responds
instantly with perfect tonal clarity ..." (Is there a difference
between remarkable clarity and perfect clarity? I guess perfect
is better than remarkable.)

The 1040, and 1040A are said to have "more definition in tone

The 1020 is said to be "remarkable for its roundness of tone ..."
(Can a tone be triangular or hexagonal, perhaps? Does it have
to be "round"?)

The 1176 is said to have "a rich, full-bodied tone quality ..."

The 1606S is said to deliver "a full-throated tone that Pete
Fountain describes as his famous 'fat' sound." Being fat
myself, I object.

The 1010 "possesses a full-bodied tone quality..." (So why I
should I by this full-bodied tone as opposed to the 1176's full
bodied tone?)

The 45 and 45A "has a beautiful full-bodied tone quality that
is exceptionally flexible, responsive, and easy to control
throughout the clarinet range." (Ah, must be part of the "full-
bodied" series.)

The 40 has "a full-bodied rich, warm tone quality..."

The 4 has "a beautiful tone quality..."

The 7820 has a "warm, mellow tone quality..."

The 1190EbS (an E-flat soprano clarinet) "has the deeper tonal
characteristics of the B-flat soprano clarinet. The high tones
of the E-flat are particularly fine, keeping their roundness and
depth, and are free of the thin, tinny and strident traits that
most people associate with the E-flat soprano clarinet." (Did
anyone on this list say that the sound of the E-flat clarinet is
thin, tinny, and strident? Who are these "most people" who feel
this way? Why haven't I met any? Do they mean that most
people in Warsaw think this?)

The 1756S (or basset clarinet in A) has "an extended range to
low C providing fuller, richer tone for notes in this normally
weaker register." (Quick! Get me a cold compress. I'm dizzy
with such cognition. The low C on a soprano clarinet has not
been heard for almost 200 years, and within a blink of an eye
it is characterized as being in a "normally weaker register.")

The 315 (basset horn in F) "features a lower joint extension
that refines and enhances the instrument's acoustical
properties. The feel and response are much like a fine B-flat
soprano clarinet with reduced resistance and a clear, balanced
tonal center." (Funny. I thought that it was I who refined and
enhanced the instrument's acoustical properties. Now I am
told that it is the lower joint extension. Sigh.)

The 300 (alto clarinet in E-flat) has a "mellow, full-bodied
sound [that] blends well..."

The 430S (bass clarinet) has "a beautiful dark, robust tone
quality..." as does the 400 intermediate level bass clarinet.
(Beautiful, I'll buy!)

The 350 contra-alto clarinet has a "deep, dark resonance and
clear tone quality..."

And finally, the 340 contrabass "has a deep, rich, solid tone

I know it is hard for anyone to describe 25 or so clarinets in a
scintillating fashion, but it is just this kind of vague, imprecise,
unclear, meaningless terminology (certainly not invented by
LeBlanc but exploited by them) that leaves younger players
searching for "that rich dark sound" that someone else, never
they, invariably have.

I don't mean to pick on LeBlanc because I like their clarinets.
Buffet and Selmer probably spout the same meaningless papp
so long as it gets people all over America and the world to slip
into Choctaw when speaking about tone character.

Can I get one instrument with a tone that is mature, rich,
flexible, lyrical, clear, youthful, with remarkable and/or perfect
clarity (did I say that already?), round, with good definition,
full-bodied, warm, beautiful, mellow, not tinny, robust, deep,
solid, and full of terrificness for about $135.58 in both B-flat
and A with a good case and cover, a mouthpiece, a cap, a
ligature, and three good reeds? Or are the models that
produce a youthful sound separated from those that produce a
mature sound?

Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California

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