Klarinet Archive - Posting 000077.txt from 1999/01
Subj: [kl] Intonation training
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 20:57:30 -0500
David Renaud wrote,
>>Notes using more or less tube, producing, more or less back pressure, and
air density, should show variations in the harmonic content also.>>
Another complicating factor with the sheer size of the instrument related to
the effect of temperature on tuning, as discussed in another recent thread.
I'd be interested in hearing from people who play metal contrabass clarinets.
I don't own a large metal clarinet, but playing my bass sax leads me to
speculate that bass and contrabass clarinetists might have to deal with
problems similar to mine. In a comfortably warm room, or even in an
uncomfortably hot environment, this sax plays in tune and has a beautiful
tone. In a cold room, it's not a question of playing flat or sharp overall,
because the whole horn can't warm up at the same time. Considering that each
hole in the pipe is involved in playing notes (often several different ones)
in at least two octaves, we're getting into an awful lot of variables.
At the end of the neck, the pipe is only 5/8" diameter. The end of the bell
flares out to 10" diameter. In between are more than 10 ft. of silver-plated
pipe-metal (basically brass, with a small amount of lead added) with two U-
joints in the body and a complex curve in the neck. (The humidity is much
higher in the neck than in the bell, where evaporation takes place quickly.
What effect might this have?) When I first begin blowing into the bass, the
neck warms up to the temperature of my breath within less than a minute, but
it cools off fast if I stop playing, something to consider if I ever did
ensemble work, since the bass sax line, if any ;-) , typically consists of
*honk, blat, bwaaaah,* 87 bars rest, *grunt, boooooo*, 20 bars rest, etc.. The
"drainpipe" that drops down from the upper U- joint to the neck takes a few
more minutes to warm up, depending on room temperature. The bell takes still
longer, and until it's warm, I have to avoid the lowest three notes on the
horn and do some drastic lip-bending to pull the rest of the range into tune.
In a really cold room, the bell never does fully warm up and the lower end of
the range sounds like a rhinoceros with pneumonia.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know that during my stay in London your
orchestras have been most generous to me. When tuning, all I asked for was
one pitch. You have invariably given me two or three at least!"
--George Szell, quoted in Jack Brymer, _From Where I Sit_, 1979.
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