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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000584.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <amichlin@-----.com>
Subj: Re: [kl] Some more thoughts on embouchures
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 12:55:50 -0400

Ormondtoby,

At 09:02 AM 10/21/2004 -0700, Ormondtoby Montoya wrote:
>...and a fifth question:
>
>(5) How do flutes and whistles produce sounds without having reeds that
>touch the mouthpiece?

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/fluteacoustics.html says it better than I can.

>The issue here is that contact between reed and mouthpiece is not the
>fundamental cause of a clarinet's sound, yet the paragraphs that you
>posted suggest to a reader to that it is. I'm not saying that
>controlling the reed is unimportant, but you are focusing your
>explanation on the wrong 'starting point'.
>
>The fundamental cause of a sound is fluctuation of air pressure, which
>can be accomplished by a number of different strategies (think again of
>why a hand clap makes a sound?) or by a vibrating sounding board, etc.

>When you are trying to present a clear understanding to a reader, think
>about string instruments. What produces a violin's sound? The
>vibrating string or the sounding board?

The vibrating string.

I begin to see now why we're seemingly at odds. I'm talking about the
method to create the vibration (ie the bow against the string) you're
talking about the physics behind the sound production (the sounding board)
that follows from this small vibration.

The latter has been well defined for clarinets for over 100 years. The
former seems to have many cliques and opinions. I have no interest in
debating the latter, but would love to hear your opinions on the former.

>Would you begin your explanation by saying that the string must be
>fastened at both ends in order for a sound to be produced. Would you
>say that in order to prove this physical principle, if you wave a string
>in the air, no sound is produced.... ooops! in fact you *can* make a
>sound this way, and the fact that the string is not fastened at both
>ends is not the basic cause of anything.
>
>Do you see the analogy, Adam?

I do, and it is valid, except if I only altered your above paragraph to state:

>Would you begin your explanation by saying that the string must be
>fastened at both ends in order for a [violin] sound to be produced

Then your following point would not be relevant. The string being fastened
at both ends is very important to create a *violin* sound.

I can whack my clarinet against the wall repeatedly and make sound. No reed
necessary! Reeds, we don't need no stinkin' reeds!

Sigh. If only.

-Adam

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