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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000365.txt from 1999/04

From: "Steven J Goldman, MD" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] science & materials when decoupled
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 21:04:35 -0400

Carefully designed single or perhaps double blind studies perhaps, anecdotal
evidence, never. We have seen how anecdotal evidence has led all forms of
scientific inquiry astray. In medicine, anecdotal evidence was the mainstay
of research until the beginning of this century, and even a superficial
perusal of "scientific" medical journals from this period leave one with a
feeling of thankfulness that this type of inquiry has mostly passed from the
scene. While the human ear is very sensitive, the human psyche is extremely
powerful. As I said before, things are not always what they seem, or perhaps
rather what we feel they should seem.

Also, one should be very careful when comparing the acoustical study of
instruments with that of concert halls. The huge number of possibly
variables one must account for in an instrument is simply dwarfed by those
of studying the variables of a hall. The reason "science" has not been
particularly successful with concert hall acoustics is that it has as yet
not been up to the challenge of accounting for or even understanding the
immense number of variables involved. We do have a bit better chance with
instrument design.


Steven Goldman
624 Huber Lane
Glenview, IL 60025

-----Original Message-----
From: James Pyne []
Subject: [kl] science & materials when decoupled

Posts have talked about the relative merit of what might be called
"scientific" vs. "experiential"(anecdotal) methodologies in making
determinations regarding tone quality. In this arena it is very difficult
to define these methodologies with clarity.....It was surprising to me,
when entering into this field of research, that more was not thoroughly
understood about instrument building, the construction of music halls and
especially the nature of tonal spectra...

Given the present state of acoustic (and perceptual) science, a rational
approach to the assessment of anecdotal evidence (illuminating, descriptive
accounts) may be the best and possibly the only way to deal with practical
problems of instrument design that can produce variations in timbre. If the
systematic study of such evidence is well organized, fairly reliable
results can be obtained. In that sense only is it possible to be as
"scientific" about timbre as one might wish.....

James Pyne
Clarinet Studio/Research Group
School of Music
The Ohio State University
1866 College Road
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Tel: 614 292 8969
Fax: 614 292 1102

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