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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000142.txt from 2002/05

From: (William Wright)
Subj: [kl] Adjectives (was: Too many barrel choices!)
Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 00:00:55 -0400

I've posted twice about bright" vs "dark" already, but it's quiet in the
house tonight.

So here's another thought --- namely, an example of the unreliability of
words such as "bright" and "dark":

I have a custom-made bell for my Bb that is 100% spherical in shape
(internal shape) rather than flared. It is a version of the "bulbous
bell" that was part of Stadler's basset horn, back in Mozart's days. I
ordered this bell out of simple curiosity. What would it sound like on
a modern instrument?

After I received the bell (and it is the only bell that I play with
nowadays), I invited several people to: (1) hear me play it, and (2)
play it themselves so that I could hear its sound from the audience's
point of view.

In each case, I asked them afterwards, "What do you think of it?" The
answers were consistently as follows:

"Well.... it's certainly darker.... or maybe brighter... well.... I
don't know how to describe it.... it's louder, that's for sure, because
it's a resonating cavity.... in the bell tones at least, but it's more
buzzy.... I mean, restricted, maybe that's a better word.... I don't
know, its different, that's for sure. I'm used to the classical
clarinet tone, so I don't think I like this as well.... except that it
would be good for..." <more rambling, but most people cannot find
the words to characterize its sound>

In my mind, and contrary to what I believed a few years ago, this is
typical of our brain's inability to assign words consistently to a
musical sound.

I already know that people such as Dan Leeson and Tony Pay have a
similar attitude towards metaphorical adjectives as I do (nowadays).
Tony has played my bell, and I regret not trying to pin him to the wall
when he did. What words (if any) would Tony choose to describe the
sound? <if he's reading this?> In truth, Tony made it sound pretty
much however he wanted it to sound, and therefore the question is
probably nonsensical.

Cheers, and truly enough rambling for tonight,


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