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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000489.txt from 1997/09

From: Jonathan Cohler <>
Subj: Re: Not Really About Greenlines Anymore
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 02:05:03 -0400

Alexis Grant wrote:

>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?

You're just repeating what I have already said. Note, above where I stated
"certainly, people are entitled to have aesthetic preferences".

This, of course, has nothing to do with the discussion at hand which WAS
about objective differences in instrument playing and sound quality.

Jonathan Cohler

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