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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000226.txt from 2004/08

From: "Christy Erickson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Objective of the Ligature
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 11:47:20 -0400

All I can tell you is what I've been taught by well-respected =
It's my understanding that the function of the ligature is to hold the =
on the mouthpiece. I was taught that the entire reed vibrates-not just =
tip so if you have a ligature that restricts that vibration at any =
the sound becomes a bit stuffy. (my own words here) I can't even define
that in words for someone else to understand-someone would have to =
and hear the difference. I can't get into the acoustics and the =
aspects of all of this-all I know is that different ligatures do make a
difference in the tone of the clarinet, as does the positioning and fit =
the ligature on the mouthpiece.
In the book "Clarinet Acoustics," by O. Lee Gibson, there is a =
blurb on
pages 60-61 regarding clarinet ligatures. The belief that a reed will
vibrate more freely if held on by a ligature that provides limited =
points, rather than a "complete envelopment" developed in the 20th =
according to Mr. Gibson. He goes on to say that the reed may play "more
brilliantly and strongly with a ligature that is moved toward the base =
the reed. (he gives the Rovner ligature as an example of this)
I don't think I would describe it quite this way myself. I just =
that there is always a certain something in the tone of my clarinet I'm
listening for and if everything isn't exactly right, it becomes very
frustrating to play. I know that during the recent playing job I had, =
was extremely frustrating to play at an A444 pitch, since there was
something missing in my tone at that pitch-probably overtones that I'm
accustomed to hearing that sound different at that pitch to me. It =
also perhaps simply have been the fact that the sound was so foreign to =
and I simply wasn't used to it but I still think there was something =
in the clarinet tone at that pitch, which made me feel very =
I just experiment and go with whatever sounds and feels the best to me =
and I
suppose that's the artistic part of making music. =20
I think the main thing to keep in mind is that different things work =
different people and we all need to experiment before settling on any =
"setup" for our instruments. I think that highly sensitive ears are
important and I always know a student is really listening to themselves
playing if they start becoming frustrated when they can't produce the =
they want on their clarinet or if their clarinet tone doesn't sound like
mine, or the one they've heard on a recording, for example. I do think =
much of that can be taught.=20
The gal who played saxophones in the last playing job I did, gave me =
hard time about "you single reed players" who fuss with our reeds all =
time. (Her main instrument is oboe but she played saxes and a bit of
clarinet for the musical we did). She looked at me in surprise when I =
"each reed sounds different" but I should have added that each one feels
different to me also. Not only that, the reed that sounded great =
MAY NOT sound good today due to weather conditions, dirt buildup or
breakdown of the cane. She had borrowed the saxophones she played from =
local school and it's my guess that she had never experimented with very
many different single reeds, ligatures or mouthpieces before. The =
reed she used appeared to have mold on it, but she somehow managed to =
get a
great sound from the Leblanc clarinet she was playing and I think it was
really just luck that that reed functioned as well as it did, since I've =
odd looking or imperfect reeds in the past also that played very nicely =
whatever reason.=20


> Several people have talked about ligatures "allowing the reed to =
> freely".....etc. I'm not sure I understand this concept. How does it =
> What part of the reed are you allowing to "vibrate freely"? Why would =
> ligature allow a reed to vibrate more "freely" than another?
> I'd like to hear from everyone/anyone about what they think the =
> of
> the ligature might be.....and from those well versed in physics on =
> might best be the best objective or approach when building a ligature.
> Also....from the mouthpiece makers....what do you guys think a =
> should do? How does it work? How is selection of ligatures effected by
> mouthpiece table type?
> Forest Aten

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