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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000332.txt from 1997/09

From: Roger Garrett <>
Subj: Re: ending the GreenLine plastic/composite thread
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 1997 20:01:49 -0400

On Sun, 7 Sep 1997, Jonathan Cohler wrote:

> Roger Garrett wrote (in reference to some Backus citations from Mark Charette):
> >These are extremely old references - and I view them as possibly
> >unreliable sources.
> The age of a fact has nothing to do with its factual status. They don't
> change with age like wine. Facts are facts. Especially, experimentally
> verified ones.

I am not sure that research is like old wine....there is much to be said
about recent study being more relevent....certainly with regard to
equipment used. However, I believe that I was off base to take to task
this particular research. My main concern is that, regardless of how it
sounds, for me, it is much more satisfying a feel when comparing wood to

> I am sure there are people doing this, but it is not a relevant question to
> the discussion at hand. certainly seems are supporting the notion that
some materials make no difference......same as with the flute issue.

> I'm not sure which particular study to which Mark referred, but I do know
> that Backus is one of the great physicists/acousticians of this field and
> he regularly used the finest professional musicians as subjects for his
> experimental work. don't know for sure? Ok.....I understand.

> >Is there a more recent study with more reliable, up-to-date
> >measurement devices?
> There are no subsutantial conclusions from any of Backus' (or for that
> matter any scientists') study that depended on measurements that fell
> within the range of error of the measuring devices. If they did, they
> wouldn't have been reported as results or conclusions. That is the nature
> of scientific study and inquiry. Therefore, more precise measuring
> instruments don't change any of his conclusions. And when you say "more
> reliable", why do you assume that they are unreliable? Given that Backus
> (as I said before) was a giant in the field (like Benade), and his work has
> never been contradicted by any of the other subsequent giants in the field,
> it seems silly of you to assume that the fundamental physics - developed
> theoretically and verified experimentally - is "unreliable".

Ok.......I guess we can all live with results from 1971 and the equipment
that was used to support the study.

I again beg your forgiveness! I am more interested in how it feels when I
blow through it....I concede (see earlier post regarding Bud Herseth in
the CSO) that the sound may measure out the same to all devices.

> >What about any that are done with the composite
> >plastics in question?
> I believe these have been done by the same people mentioned above. But as
> Greg Gallant pointed out, it does not matter that the plastic is a
> so-called "composite plactic". What matters are its fundamental physical
> properties such as porosity, heat conduction, density etc...

Well.....were they done? If so.....can you please refer me to the
study...I would like to read it. I thought that your earlier posting said
something about playing on a bad plastic and a good you are
saying it doesn't matter if we even play on it at doesn't
matter because the research shows the material does not make a noticeable

Roger Garrett

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