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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000187.txt from 1995/01

From: Jim Freeman <collnjim@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Words!!! Words!! Words! Words
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 02:57:19 -0500

On Mon, 9 Jan 1995, Dan Leeson: wrote:

> 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.
> 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
> instruments.

Although we've been down this road before, I'm wondering what our options
are. Clearly, there are those of us who think that information about tone
differences can be communicated verbally, and those of us who think it
cannot. It seems unlikely that one side is going to come up with an
argument which will convince the other. However, considering that most of
the time we communicate we do it verbally, do we really want to admit
defeat so easily? Couldn't we pool our intelligence to figure out a set
of carefully worded and agreed upon phrases which might actually describe,
in some sense of the word, an aspect of a sound which comes from a
clarinet. Obviously, there are teachers who teach the clarinet without
ever playing a note. Somehow they have suceeded in communicating
SOMETHING to their students, often, I happily suspect, communicating an
idea of what counts as an acceptable sound. While excesses like the
Leblanc ad will continue to communicate exactly nothing except the phrase
"BUY ME," I would be interested in learning how other members of the
Klarinet use language to describe certain sounds we make. How much
common ground exists? We've talked a lot about the limitations of
language in this context; what are the possibilities?

Jim Freeman (

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