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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000255.txt from 2004/08

From: "Christy Erickson" <perickso@-----.net>
Subj: RE: [kl] Objective of the Ligature
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 20:15:55 -0400


> I was taught that the entire reed vibrates-not just the
> tip
>=20
> Does this matter?

I suppose it would matter if there is a difference in the sound produced =
by
a reed that is clamped down on the mouthpiece too tightly in the wrong
places.

>=20
> I thought the main objective of the ligature WAS to hold the reed into
> place
> securely on the table of the mouthpiece? I thought that the ligatures =
that
> do a good job of securing the reed to the mouthpiece create a more =
stable
> enviornment for the reed to vibrate....and a lot less trouble from one
> reed
> to the next. I'm not sure what you mean by saying "restricts that
> vibration"? What vibration?... and does the vibration that you are =
trying
> to
> describe matter at all in the overall scheme of things?

I suppose that's the way the business of using ligatures of different
designs and materials began. The only original function of the ligature =
WAS
to hold the reed on the mouthpiece but somewhere along the line, people
began to experiment I suppose and discovered that different sounds were
produced when one used ligatures of different materials and types. I
suppose some (the scientists among us) are more prone than others to =
getting
into the technical aspects of clarinet acoustics and sound production on
single reed instruments but for me, it's enough to know that making =
changes
in materials and styles of ligatures produces different sounds and that
doesn't have to mean spending a lot of money. As I mentioned, I =
encourage
my students to try different things like string, rubber bands, strips of
leather, etc... to secure the reed on the mouthpiece. I'm not certain =
the
"why" of it all matters nearly as much as the final product of that
experimentation. The final product to me is the realization that =
different
materials and methods do make differences in the tone of the instrument. =
I
suppose some of the reasons we think differently about all of this has =
to do
with learning style differences. Some will see the "whole" first and =
then
worry about the details later and others will gather every conceivable =
fact
about a subject before coming to a conclusion and making a choice. As =
you
can probably tell, I'm one of those who plunges ahead and reads =
instructions
later, but only if all else fails. What can I say? I suppose someone =
has
to be a guinea pig of sorts and do the exploring.=20
My daughter began attending a brand new school in 2nd grade and they
were well into the 3rd month of school when she discovered that the =
walls of
her classroom were magnetic. All the teachers and staff had been =
wondering
how they were going to hang things on those walls until Emily did the
exploring and discovered the walls were magnetic. Now I believe someone
ought to have known or figured that out by that time but they hadn't and =
the
school gave her an award for her discovery. Did it matter more WHY the
walls were magnetic and how they got that way or was it more important =
that
people simply were aware of the fact that the walls were magnetic and =
they
could use magnets to hold artwork and signs on the walls? I suppose it
depends on your goals. An architect for a school would probably be more
interested in the technical aspects and specifications but the teachers =
and
students were only concerned with finding a method to hang things on the
walls. Likewise, if I were to be interested in designing a new type of
ligature for a clarinet, I would certainly need the technical =
information
with which to do so but to most players, I think it's the final product =
that
matters most. If I'm not happy with something-out it goes. =20

> Lee was my clarinet instructor and mentor at North Texas in the late =
60's
> early 70's. As hard as Lee tried to be the scientist, much of what Lee
> described in the way of science was antidotal, his book on acoustics =
being
> one exception....but not without error....
> I'm not sure I ever bought into his observations on ligature/reed
> performance.=20

Well, at least he tried and it sounds like he was very good at what he =
did.
In the end, it's the final product that counts most and it sounds like =
he
helped many people become fine clarinet players. =20

> I agree totally....but....
> What if we could collectively agree on a few important facts about
> ligatures
> that would help us:
> 1st...dispell much myth (voodo marketing) about ligatures
> 2nd..select a ligature that creates an sound generation enviornment =
that
> is
> stable and consistant...under many conditions

I'm not sure that it would be quite as much fun if we all agreed =
completely
on everything, nor am I sure it would be possible. I'm not sure what =
you
mean by "voodoo marketing," since I'm really don't believe that people
design products to sell that don't benefit them in some way-unless they =
have
an awful lot of excess time on their hands. One factor that no one may =
ever
be able to quantify is the individual physiological characteristics that
different people have and their own subjective experiences. I think the
"sound generation environment" really must include the instrument =
itself,
the reed, the mouthpiece, the ligature and of course the players own =
body.
We've already created a high number of variables in the form of =
equipment
and gadgets and I have to believe that at least some of the reason for =
that
is due to the fact that individual physiological characteristics vary so
much from player to player. There is nothing wrong with marketing a
product. Everyone is entitled to sell something I suppose and it's
definitely good to have some knowledge about the product you are =
purchasing
but you can't argue with a product that helps a player achieve their =
goals
and they are happy with. The product's quality will eventually =
determine
whether it remains on the market. The biggest problem we sometimes have =
is
the inability to try out a new product before purchasing it. =20
I remember Russ Dagon attempting to get me to hold the instrument
straight instead of pitching it to the right side of my body when I =
studied
clarinet with him back in 1978. It was only recently that I discovered =
some
of that may have been caused by a whiplash injury I suffered in an auto
accident I was in at age 17. That old injury came back to haunt me this
past spring and I've had cervical disc and shoulder problems. =
Surprisingly,
after going through physical therapy and chiropractic treatments I'm =
shocked
that I now hold my clarinet straight in front of me when I play. I used =
to
think the problem had more to do with the fact that my teeth are not =
even in
the front but I don't believe that has been the problem all these years =
at
all. =20

>=20
> How many of you out there....when trying to produce the sound of a =
great
> player you've heard on a recording, knew or even thought about knowing
> what
> kind of ligature the player was using?
> How many of you that have studied with great players were shocked when =
you
> heard that player up close and personal?
>=20
> Just few a thoughts...
>=20
> Forest Aten

I never thought about it in my younger days-back then I was only =
interested
in what strength reed they had and what type of clarinet they were =
using.
Do you mean shocked in the sense of being disappointed or shocked in the
sense that it was better up close? In my experience, I've always been =
more
impressed when I hear a player up close and live. Maybe it's just more
exciting to hear them that way but I've always been fascinated and there
have been very few times I've felt disappointment about a
performance-especially solo. I'm far more into ensemble performance =
myself
than any type of soloing (it must be the piano accompanist in me) but I =
do
admire those who are great solo performers. I don't think I'd ever be
ambitious enough to spend that much time exclusively on any one =
instrument
but I've always loved my clarinet. Christy

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