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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000486.txt from 1997/09

From: elspeth4@-----. Grant)
Subj: Not Really About Greenlines Anymore
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 23:52:58 -0400

Here, hopefully, is a clarification of the confusion in this exchange.

On Tue, 9 Sep 1997 07:55:09 -0500 Jonathan Cohler <>
>Alexis Grant wrote:
>>On Sun, 7 Sep 1997 21:57:28 -0500 Jonathan Cohler <>

>>>The material out of which a clarinet is made will not change how the
>>>instruments sounds or feels (in terms of blowing) to a player or

>>Just because there is no actual difference between one plastic clarinet
>>and one wood clarinet doesn't mean I won't feel that they're different,
>>or that I won't like one of them more.

>While a person's feelings are, by definition, subjective, the way an
>instrument feels to a person (from a blowing/sound perspective) is
>fundamentally objective.

I am not talking about the instrument, particularly. If you're talking
about blowing and physics-based sound properties, I guess that's
objective. But the issue for most of us is choosing a clarinet we like
all-around, and those objective properties don't hold much force against
personal conviction, whether or not the conviction is justfiable.

>Imagine the following experiment with multiple clarinets made of
>materials and you'll see what I mean:
> 1. Use the same mouthpiece/reed/ligature, with the same player
> for all instruments.
> 2. Don't allow the player to touch the instrument. Have
> else finger notes for him.
>Now, if the instruments have precisely the same blowing/sound
>characteristics, the same player with the same setup will not be able to
>distinguish between them (in any statistically useful way). This has
>demonstrated in experiment.

This makes sense. However, we are not worried about statistical
difference when we're trying to pick an instrument that we're going to be
playing regularly for a long time. Then, personal preference, within
reason, is what's really going to matter.

>On the other hand, people may certainly convince themselves that things
>sound or feel different when they, in fact. do not. But if they cannot
>this with repeatability in blind experiments then it is meaningless.
>And certainly, people are entitled to have aesthetic preferences
>(plast vs.wood vs metal etc.).

I think there's been somewhat of a misunderstanding here. The primary
discussion, as I recall it, related to objective properties of different
materials, but that was spawned by a question about preferences of
materials. I have nothing to say on the subject of construction material
affecting objective sound, and think that a lot of useful information has
been provided to the list already. But when I say an instrument "feels
different" to a person, I am talking about someone's opinion of how they
like an instrument, not the properties of the instrument itself. I am not
concerned with a whole bunch of clarinets that all sound and feel the
same (objectively or subjectively) because it seems based on people's
expereiences that this doesn't occur very often. I am only discussing a
person's perception of an instrument, not aesthetics, not physics, not
blind experiments, and _not_ objectivity, and I am discussing that
because I choose to believe this is the most important question in
picking a new clarinet: Do you like it, and does it suit you?

Does that work?


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