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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000517.txt from 2001/07

From: George Kidder <>
Subj: Re: [kl] reed strength
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 09:17:19 -0400

At 01:36 PM 07/18/2001 +0200, you wrote:
It is also quite dry here in Johannesburg, which may also have an
>effect on the reed.
>Allan Thompson
Maybe I'm just an insensitive tyro, but I have never noticed any effect of
climate on read behavior after the reed is properly moistened for use. It
seems to me that while you are playing, the entire "business end" of the reed
is in your mouth or in the saturated air within the mouthpiece, and therefore
at a constant water potential, regardless of the external humidity. But I
that many comments have been made about the changes in reeds with changes in
humidity, and I have no reason to believe that these persons are lying about

Three possible explanations (and there may be more)

1) People are really talking about how long it takes to reach water
equilibrium, and that would depend on the amount of water in the reed to begin
with, which would depend on the humidity of the air in which it had been
stored. Prediction: soaking reeds for a long time before playing them should
eliminate this effect.

2) The reed doesn't really reach equilibrium, but plays best with the
wet and the interior dry, and the process of wetting the interior takes time
(hours). Therefore, the climate in which the reed is stored makes a

3) The reed reaches a steady state in which it is absorbing water from the
mouth and from the window, but releasing water along the edges of the playing
surface, and through the dryer areas along the table and at the but. I
know by
experiment that water will wick along the reed in a relatively short time (an
hour or so) but whether this can change the playing properties is not known to

Any thoughts, or better, any experiments that deal with this subject?

George Kidder

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