Klarinet Archive - Posting 000923.txt from 1998/03
From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.edu>
Subj: Another peculiar acoustical phenomenon
Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 11:39:54 -0500
The recent post of a peculiar acoutical phenomenon reminded me of
another that I read of, but never corroborated, perhaps 10 years
ago. It has to do with the very nature of the clarinet's register
Now every one of us knows that the clarinet family, without exception,
overblows a 12th, this in contradistinction with many (most, all ??)
other woodwind instruments that uniformly overblow an octave.
Well, the assertion that I read about (and whose source is no longer
remembered by me) suggested an experiment that turned the world topsy
turvy, presuming the phenomenon described really does work as
The suggestion is this: make a cork of the right size to fit into
the upper end of the clarinet's barrel; i.e., the end into which
the mouthpiece normally fits. Drill a hole in the center of that
cork small enough to hold an oboe reed. Then insert such a reed
and play two notes, one without the register key and one with it.
According to the article I read, the clarinet will overblow an
octave under these conditions.
Keeping in mind that I never tried the experiment and can neither
confirm nor deny it, all sorts of peculiar things come to mind
under the assumption that it is true, and most of these things I
do not understand. For example, I am under the impression that
the clarinet overblows a 12th because of an acoustical consideration
inherent in the instrument itself. But if the proposed experiment
is true, then the phenomenon that causes the instrument to overblow
a 12th must also be related in some way to the mouthipiece design
or else the single reed, or else both.
I can attest to one thing. The reverse is false. For example,
many years ago a clarinet mouthpiece was made to fit into an
oboe. It was much smaller than a B-flat mouthpiece but it was a
single reed, clarinet-type mouthpiece and its purpose was to
allow some of the many clarinet players in a public school to
play oboe parts. I was one of the suckers that tried it, and it
worked fine. The oboe still overblew an octave and I sounded like
a sick duck.
But if a clarinet mouthpiece in an oboe has no fundamental
acoustical effect on the registration, it may still be that
an oboe reed in a clarinet does.
Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California
Rosanne Leeson, Los Altos, California