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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000366.txt from 2002/05

From: "Dee D. Hays" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Metal clarinets
Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 22:08:55 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: "William Wright" <>
Subject: Re: [kl] Metal clarinets

> We've been through this territory before, but perhaps two points deserve
> repetition:
> (1) By logical necessity, a metal clarinet must be at least a bit
> different acoustically from a wood clarinet because there is a
> relationship between intonation and depth of tone holes. (Thus the
> length of a register tube makes a difference). Since a metal clarinet
> is thin-walled, it must have either: (a) different tone hole diameters;
> or (b) more "hole tubes" in order to have the same intonation over the
> entire instrument; or (c) different intonation over the entire
> instrument. No matter which way, it must have (perhaps minor?)
> differences in sound. The same considerations apply to the amount of
> undercutting that can be done on the holes of a thin-walled metal
> instrument vs. a thicker-walled wood instrument.

Look at any metal clarinet and you will find "stand pipes" to take care of
the depth of the holes.
At the time of the metal clarinet, wooden instruments did not have
undercutting either.
Thus the sound should be indistinguishable from that of a wood clarinet.

> (2) An accurate test of whether mass and material make a difference (vs.
> only the geometry of the air column) would be to build a simple clarinet
> out of thin metal tubing with no tone holes at all (thus only one
> pitch), Then blow through it with a machine of some sort (thereby
> eliminating the variability of a human musician), and make a
> spectrograph.
> Then wrap the metal 'clarinet' in a large amount of lead tape or
> sheeting (glue to make the bond intimate). This will change the
> instrument's mass and wall thickness completely without affecting any
> other aspect of the instrument. Play it again and make a spectrograph.
> How do the two spectrographs compare?

Different materials have been tested. There isn't a measureable difference.
People then argue that the measuring instrumentation "simply isn't
sophisticated enough" to pick up material induced differences.

Dee Hays


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