Klarinet Archive - Posting 000666.txt from 1999/01
From: TOM RIDENOUR <klarinet@-----.net>
Subj: Re: [kl] R13
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 09:21:23 -0500
Francois Kloc wrote:
>--Dear Lauren and all,
>First the R13 was designed in 1955 and secondly even if Robert Careewas not a
>clarinet player he was the ONE who DESIGN THE FIRST POLYCILINDRICAL CLARINET,
>every one took the idea and design theirs from this design.
I'm not sure this is correct, and I may have been a few years off. Lee
Gibson tells me that he recalls the first R-13's appearing in the early
1950's....with the 65mm barrel. So that means to me the clarinet must have
been designed in the early 50's or even the late 40's to get it on the
market here in the US by the early or mid-50's. I have always taken this
as accurate from Gibson; but either his memory or mine could be faulty.
As to the fact that Carree did not play, I have this on good authority
from French clarinetist, Richard Vielle, who knew Carree personally and
worked with him, and spent lots of time at the Buffet factory in the 60's
Richard said Carree did not play, but could hear well.
Secondly, and I hate to dispute this, but it is a matter of historical
proof that everyone has not taken the polycylindrical bore as a basis for
small bore clarinet design. Leblanc never did so before I worked on the
Concerto, The new Selmer Signature, for example, is very dark, but has no
such bore feature, neither does the Recital or the recent Buffet DG
The use of the polycylindrical feature to make small bore clarinets have an
acceptably dark and resonant tone was valid, but it is not the only way to
so do ; there is more than one way to skin a cat, and some cats can be
skinned with the sacrifice of pitch, shape and color stability in the upper
register of the clarion and at higher dynamic levels, uneven response in
various critical areas of the instrument, and the other vagaries of tuning
I articulated in my last post.
There is no doubt that there is no "best" instrument for
everybody. I don't think I mentioned anything at all about this in my post.
Talented people, or course, can make anything work. It all depends
upon how hard they are willing to work at any given time.
But because our experience is relative we think what we have is the
best until something better comes along, and we never realize how hard we
are working until we find something that demands less of us and gives us
the same or better result.
There are lots of good clarinets out there. All I have encouraged
players here and elsewhere to do is think about the music and what they
want the clarinet to play, tune, feel and sound like and learn how to
actually test an instrument to clearly discover its' virtues and
weaknesses, and come to a clear understanding of what it actually has to
offer, rather than just look at its' lable or be just another sheep.
Is this so unreasonable?
We cannot obfuscate the matter by implying that the subjectivity
of individual needs and tastes make it impossible to make at least general
comments on specific models. Our subjective needs and the objective
characteristics of a model are apples and oranges.
The truth is, specific designs yield general, albeit, specific playing,
responsive and tuning features more or less common to instruments bearing
that same acoustical design; If these general features weren't common to
all clarinets of that model anyone desiring to buy a clarinet would have to
start from scratch with each individual clarinet they test.
Without an understanding of the general playing characteristics of
a certain model, keeping in mind that there is, or course, some playing
variation of instruments bearing that design, the individual could never
have a hint about where to begin to meet his own personal or subjective
Fortunately, instruments of the same model do exhibit general,
objective, characteristic features. It's what makes a Bach trumpet a
Bach trumpet and a Steinway a Steinway. These features can be talked
about, disgussed, appreciated, agreed upon, understood and evaluated
without implying that everyone should or should not play that instrument.
Buying an instrument you are going to use is very similar to a
marriage. The more we really see our mate objectively and understand his
or her weaknesses and faults in open eyed manner _before_ we marry them the
better the marriage will be.
If we do not see the faults and strengths of instrument models,
but look at them through rose colored glasses before we buy we can be in
for many unpleasant surprises and disappointments.
For the Memory of Master Caree I cannot let anybody
>diminish is work.
>Woodwind Product Specialist
>Boosey & Hawkes Musical Instruments Inc.
No one should diminish his work, Francois, especially since he was
the first to make the small bore clarinet, which inherently tunes better
than the large bore clarinet, have an acceptable sound. Historically, I
don't think that anyone disputes that and it's something we can all
appreciate be grateful for.
But the fact of the matter is the French themselves have abandoned
the R-13, and Buffet Crampon is now producing the DG, which has no upper
bore polycylindrical feature, or at least the one I measured did not, and
the R-13 has objectively been improved upon in many ways....by Buffet
One does not impugne Henry Ford's memory to say the Taurus or newer
assembly line cars are better than the T-model. On the contrary, his
memory is vindicated because those who followed him thought well enough of
his work good enough to build upon and to IMPROVE upon.
But saying someone's work was worthwhile and valid is not the same as
saying it was beyond criticism or improvement. They are apples and
oranges, are they not?
1950, 1955, what's the difference when we reflect upon the fact
that we have now had almost a half of a century to consider these
designs, their weaknesses, their strengths (and there are several) , and
offer the clarinet world better or equal alternatives.
Of course, Buffet's competitors have not been the only one's
involved in this process , but Buffet itself, and even Robert
Carree....whose own last designs, which I am sure he considered superior to
his earlier designs (and so do the French) , were put in the Buffet RC (the
RC standing for his name).
As someone who is now completely independent of manufacturers,
all I hope to do is encourage all makers to make their instruments play,
tune and sound better, so that clarinetists may be increasingly free to be
as expressive and spontaneous as those who play other instruments which
are, for whatever reasons, a bit further down the road regarding their
acoustical evolution and ultimate perfection.
Anyone who has ears to hear and has experienced the frustration of
trying to master the clarinet ought to agree that the clarinet has a way to
The Happiest of New Years to you, Francois.
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