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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001494.txt from 1998/04

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.edu>
Subj: [klarinet] Tristan Carpenter on clarinets of various media
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 06:10:29 -0400

> From: MX%"klarinet@-----.40
> Subj: [klarinet] Wood vs. Plastic vs. Metal

> I'm sorry to say this, for all those folks out there who cherish thier
> plastic clarinets; there is a definitive (ok, so it's not THAT major; but
> it's noticible) difference in the sound between a plastic and a wood
> clarinet. Here are the scientific facts as I have been informed by SEVERAL
> friends in the scientific field...

Tristan, it is kind of you to offer the opinions of your friends, but
that does not constitute evidence. Now if you had done some research
and were offering us the benefit of that study, that might be something
of great interest. But "my friends in the scientific field say ..."
is interesting but has limited value, not disakin to me suggesting
that my friends say to buy (or sell) Microsoft.

> 1. The difference in sound is, in part, quality. Though some excellent
> plastic clarinets have been made, most are of sub standard workmanship.

Can you be more precise here. You say that the "quality" of the
sound is different. That may be true, but how do you measure that
difference? Please do not tell us that you hear a difference in
quality and that such observation constitutes your evidence. As
far as I know, quality of sound cannot be measured, so that differences
in quality cannot be spoken of so imprecisely as you have done.

You are correct that some plastic clarinets are not made well and that
this does have an effect on them, but that effect has never been
established as being in the character of the sound. It lies elsewhere
such as in pitch, for example. Less time and trouble is spent
making plastic clarinets and, as such, fine details of pitch may
go unresolved. In turn, you may be hearing pitch differences and
presuming that this is clarinet quality.

> 2. Every material in this world resonates at a slightly different frequency.
> Wood is denser than plastic, and therefore resonates more slowly. Slower
> frequency of resonation causes what is described as a "darker" sound. Metal
> resonates fastest of all.

This is very invented science. It is difficult enough to even understand
what a dark sound is, much less to conclude, as you have done, on
what is the main influence on it. And presuming that there is such
a thing (about which I have my doubts, but that doesn't matter here),
what I do to influence that darkness or brightness is, to a great
extent independent of the instrument itself but lies in mouthpiece,
reed, ligature, teeth, chest, and body considerations.

> 3. Thicker the walls, slower the resonation. ??? (This one's debatable).

If it is debatable, then why are you suggesting it as part of your
arsenal of technical points?

> 4. The smoothness of the bore has much to do with sound. On a wood clarinet
> there is the grain of the wood ever-present, while on plastic and metal the
> bore is smoother. Once again, these factors determine resonance
> frequencies.

Who says so? Cite your sources for this statement, please.

> There is what I know, maybe it will help you decide. Two things are for
> sure though, plastic is not as adversely affected by weather as wood is;
> and, wood, for whatever reason, seems to sound better (at least IMHO). I
> hope I got all my scientific terms right!!! :)
> Tristan Carpenter

You are correct in this very point. What you have presented is your
opinion, or perhaps the opinion of your friends. And it may very well
be true, but you have not established that.

>
>
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>
=======================================
Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California
Rosanne Leeson, Los Altos, California
leeson@-----.edu
=======================================

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