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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000408.txt from 1995/03

From: "Edwin V. Lacy" <el2@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Flatness when loud (J. Cohler, E. Lacy, et al.)
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 15:59:47 -0500

On Tue, 14 Mar 1995, Roger J. Shilcock wrote:

> It seems not impossible that players play flat when loud because it sounds
> better that way, if flat partials are getting a bigger share of the energy.
> Roger Shilcock

This concept is a very interesting, and I think it has some validity.
The problem with it, as I see it is this: The Pythagorean 5th is 702
cents, compared with 500 cents for the equally tempered 5th. (Cent =
hundredth of a semi-tone.) So, the 3rd, 6th and 12th partials will be
flat. Naturally, the 6th and 12th are negligible in the spectrum of the
harmonic structure of the clarinet tone, and so will have no perceptible
effect on the perceived pitch. But, the 3rd is the strongest overtone in
the clarinet spectrum, so we are dealing with a frequency which should
cause the perceived pitch to be sharp. So perhaps when writers have
referred to the flatness of the overtones, they may be thinking of the
7th and 11th partials, both of which are very flat compared to the
tempered scale. Both of these would be present in the clarinet spectrum,
but are high enough that they should be relatively less intense, so I
don't know whether that would be sufficient to compensate and overcome
the effect of the sharp 3rd partial.

Perhaps someone can reconcile this for us. I do think that the concept
of "perceived pitch" as opposed to "frequency" is one that has gotten far
too little attention.

Edwin Lacy
University of Evansville
el2@-----.edu

   
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