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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000080.txt from 1999/01

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] re:Intonation training
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 21:32:32 -0500

On Sun, 03 Jan 1999 17:57:25 -0800, said:


> Neverless the cause for piano is inertia, of this I am absolutely
> sure, leaves me with questions for clarinet.


> There is some inertia in everything even air, and vibrating clarinets,
> barrels, reeds,
> Do acousticians believe this to have an immeasurable effect on wind
> instruments, that it is so negligible??


> I accept that the effects of inertia are probably negligible, for wind
> instruments, and there are overriding factors but I have problems with
> the concept, that something so fundamental in nature, that has a
> profound effect on a whole class of instruments, has absolutely no
> bearing, on wind instruments, and is impossible.

Different clarinets have different sounds, but this isn't to do with
their overtones not being whole number multiples of the fundamental. It
is to do with the fact that different clarinets have different
*proportions* of overtones that *are* whole number multiples of the

For example, a clarinet that has very pronounced overtones compared with
the fundamental has a brighter or shriller sound than one with less
pronounced overtones. But the pitches of the overtones are fixed.

A piano, on the other hand, can have overtones that *aren't* whole
number multiples of the fundamental, because the piano string is just
struck and left to vibrate. Piano designers do their best to minimise
this inharmonicity, but the problem is inherent.

The clarinet tube, on the other hand, is continuously excited by the
continuous blowing we do, and it is this that makes the difference.

Here's an analogy, not a very good one, but one that might help you to
find the concept more intuitive.

When you try to start a car, and the engine doesn't catch, you get a
'judder'. The starter motor turns the engine over, and it wobbles
backwards and forwards for a bit, before it stops.

When the engine catches, though, it settles down very quickly to being
(almost) stationary, if it's a good engine! The steady state it reaches
is more stable, even though there's a lot more energy involved, because
the energy is being continuously supplied, in a way that stabilises the

Of course, the piano string is much more sophisticated than a
kickstarted engine, but the point is that in both cases the wobbles
aren't capable of being tamed after they are started. In the case of a
clarinet, everything settles down, and it turns out that this is enough
to make the vibrations harmonic -- the analogue of the 'purring' engine.

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE GMN family artist:
tel/fax 01865 553339

"Believing Truth is staring at the sun
Which but destroys the power that could perceive."

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