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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001439.txt from 1999/01

From: Tony@-----.uk (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Bore sizes
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 06:57:32 -0500

On Fri, 29 Jan 1999 09:02:52 +0000, johnd@-----.com said:

> I'm very grateful to Tony Pay for such a comprehensive reply to my
> request for information about the Boosey and Hawkes 1010.

You're welcome.

> > According to Jon Steward, the bore size of a 1010 clarinet was
> > supposed to be .600 inches, which is 15.24mm
>
> Oops! If Tom Ridenour is correct then I don't have much chance at all
> of playing in tune.

Well...... Without wishing to detract from what Tom says in any way, I
have to point out that the way in which the 1010 was excellently played
at the time did differ greatly from the way in which a French instrument
was excellently played. I'm not talking about the results so much as
the physical address to the instrument. In fact there was some
difficulty in the UK when people began playing Buffets with the same
sort of address they had used for 1010s. The results were, I would say,
not so satisfactory, and it took a while for English players to adjust,
and find out how to make the French instruments sound their best.

It's very easy for us to think, well, I'm just blowing this instrument
normally, not doing anything special, when the truth is that we are
doing rather a lot. To see this even more clearly, imagine how someone
presented with a violin who didn't know what it was, or did, would
assess its possibilities. They wouldn't even begin to imagine what
Heifetz made of it.

Tom is careful to be accurate about what he says. Thus:

> I can certainly play the low register of these clarinets in tune, but
> only with gross shape distortion and loss of center in the sound to
> lower the pitch.

....and I'm sure that's true. But it doesn't mean that if he was
willing to live with the instrument for several years, using a different
sort of mouthpiece and playing within a tradition of a somewhat
different sound and style, that this would remain the case. And it's at
least possible that, at the end of the process of getting better at
doing it, the problems he now notices so clearly would be much less
evident, even if they hadn't disappeared. Moreover, some of the
solutions would consist less of humouring notes one at a time, and more
of general ways of addressing registers of the instrument.

He has a message of course: he thinks we'd be better off with different
sorts of instruments than 1010s, or large bor instruments in general.
But I'm sure he'd be the last to denigrate the abilities of the great
past players of them. And further, I hope he wouldn't definitely say
that you've very little chance of playing in tune on them, because after
all, what does he know about you?

Really, the players who play in tune are the ones that *think* in tune.
The gear that they use to *play* in tune is up to them, though what they
choose may make it more or less difficult. (How about that violinist,
again?)

A way of putting this is to say that more people will play in tune 'by
accident' on a polycylindrical clarinet -- just as they may do on a
guitar, compared to a violin.

> Following suggestions made in response to a previous post of mine
> about intonation, I've been testing my B flat instrument against a
> tuning meter, and I was surprised at quite how much variation there
> was, even on adjacent notes. For example, top line F is good, but the
> G a tone above is flat. The throat G sharp, A and B flat measure
> flat, but when I'm playing they feel sharp some days, I think it
> depends on the weather :-) Similarly I've always found it easy to
> vary the pitch in the altissimo register quite a lot, but the flip
> side is you need a very good ear to hit the notes in tune first time.

Yup. And when you're playing in an ensemble, and have to play, say, a
low B in a chord of G major, you have to play it a lot *flatter* than
'right in equal temperament' (ie, right with your meter). So thinking
intelligently about the music in order to play in tune is even more
important here, especially on a 1010 where it's a sharp note anyway.
But the problem is there to a greater or lesser extent for all
clarinets.

> Looking back to the time I bought them, I think we were extremely
> parochial those days. I never even considered buying anything else,
> after all, Jack Brymer played 1010s, so they *must* be the best. When
> I joined the RAF in 1963 I was issued with a plastic B & H 926, and as
> far as I know the RAF bought nothing else. I knew about Buffet, but
> they were ... well ... French. B & H were solid English stuff, made
> in Edgware, after all. Selmer? But they made saxophones. LeBlanc?
> Le-who? No Klarinet list in those days, all I knew was learnt from
> teachers or colleagues, who probably didn't know much more than me.

They knew stuff about what worked for 1010s. You were operating within
a tradition. But so was the rest of the world -- they were pretty
parochial too.

When I was sixteen, I played the Mozart concerto with a Youth Orchestra
in Berlin on my 1010s, and a German clarinet player came round *before
the concert* to ask me why I didn't play a German instrument. "I don't
know," I said. "You English! We make the best instruments in the
world, and you don't bother to play on them!" he said, and left.

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

... Give your child mental blocks for Christmas.

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