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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000254.txt from 2002/05

From: "Tim Roberts" <timr@-----.com>
Subj: [kl] Describing tone
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 14:35:24 -0400

We've had many discussions on this list about the squishiness of most of the
marketing-based adjectives used to describe a clarinet's tone (dark, bright,
open, smooth, "chocolately", tastes great, less filling, etc.). My question
for the day is: are there ANY adjectives that can transmit objective meaning?

Let me give an example. This morning, KBPS radio played the Beethoven Sextet
for Winds, op. 71, by the Classical Winds (on period instruments). I enjoyed
this spirited recording, but I noticed that the two clarinets had dramatically
different tone. It seems to me that the difference should be describable in
terms that actually mean something to someone besides myself.

The second clarinet (Margaret Archibald?) sounded the way I sound when I use a
reed that is too hard: airy and a bit thin, as if it were taking a lot of air
to produce the tone. The first clarinet (Colin Lawson) was a complete
contrast. His sound was big and full, almost saxophone-like in its richness.
It was almost TOO full given the rest of the ensemble, but that's beside the
point.

The two sounds were qualitatively different. Is there no way to express that
objectively? Certainly I could listen to this with someone else and say,
"that's what I mean when I say 'airy', and that's what I mean when I say
'rich'". Is that the ONLY way to express timbre and tone?

--
- Tim Roberts, timr@-----.com
Providenza & Boekelheide, Inc.

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