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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000463.txt from 2004/10

From: Bill Hausmann <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Air flow
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004 00:19:05 -0400

At 05:44 PM 10/15/2004 -0400, Adam Michlin wrote:
>At 09:40 PM 10/15/2004 +0100, Tony Pay wrote:
>>No, this is wrong. You can have the reed not striking the mouthpiece, and
>>there still be a clarinet sound.
>>In fact, the Germans have a word for it. It's called, 'echoton'. Echoton
>>occurs when the reed doesn't close against the mouthpiece facing. (Some very
>>open mouthpieces almost ensure that this doesn't occur.)
>>Alan Hacker once said that 'English' clarinet players don't really have a
>>clarinet sound -- it's all just amplified echoton:-)
>Being an ignorant American, this is the first I have heard of 'echoton'.
>I stand corrected and I will forevermore preface my statements with the
>disclaimer "For French System Players Only" and the Germans can just do it
>there own way. Just like... they... always... do. Hm.

"Echoton" is what is known in English as "subtone."

>I am really curious to know how the sound generation works without the
>reed striking something (and will understand if I have to wait until you
>return for an answer)? Stay tuned!

You may THINK you are hearing the sound of the reed hitting the mouthpiece,
but what you are REALLY hearing is the excitation the column of air inside
the clarinet by rapidly starting and stopping the airflow by means of the
reed acting as a valve. If the reed does not close all the way, you get
that fuzzy subtone sound, since the air column is still excited, but not as
thouroughly. And actually, if you use a reed that it much too soft, you
may indeed hear the slapping of the reed against the mouthpiece resulting
in a flabby, reedy tone.

>In regards to widely open mouthpieces, my understanding is that this is
>why these mouthpieces tend to require a softer reed, to allow for more
>flexibility such that the reed can strike the mouthpiece. I am perplexed
>and intrigued by the thought of the reed alone making a sound.

Softer reeds are required on open mouthpieces not so they will strike the
mouthpiece, but so they will completely close the "valve." It is, of
course, easier to produce a subtone on an open mouthpiece, too, by using a
harder reed.

Bill Hausmann

If you have to mic a saxophone, the rest of the band is TOO LOUD!

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