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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000119.txt from 2010/11

From: Jennifer Jones <>
Subj: Re: [kl] RES: Orchestral Pitch
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2010 18:28:50 -0500

On Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 2:08 PM, Diego Casadei <> wr=
> Dear Richard,
> I must have expressed myself very badly :-( =A0My A and B-flat clarinets
> are manifactured by the Patricola brothers and they belong to the class
> of professional instruments. =A0They are _designed_ to play in tune at 442
> Hz, and most players do so by adopting the 65 mm Patricola barrel (who
> produce barrels in the range 63-68 mm). =A0With my B40 embochure, it
> happens that I need to use the 66 mm barrel to play at 442 Hz.
> Above, the only relevant thing is that the Patricola clarinets are
> designed to play at 442 Hz (I could say the same of Buffet models). =A0I
> can certainly use shorter or longer barrels and play with rings, but
> nothing will change the position of the tone holes.

Ahhh, but one can undercut.

>This implies that,
> for example, if I increase the barrel portion to lower the pitch to play
> in tune at 440 Hz when emitting the all-closed central B tune (a natural
> A at 440 Hz), the lower portion of the instrument will be better in tune
> than the higher portion, which will tend to sound flat.
> The reason is that a fixed length increase, say 1 mm, means a larger
> _relative_ increase for holes which are nearer the mouthpiece compared
> to the bottom holes.
> For this reason, if a band wants to play at 439 Hz the best choice (if
> possible) is to purchase instruments built to be in tune at that
> frequency. =A0Buying a clarinet tuned at 442 Hz and playing it at 439 Hz
> means destroying the relations between different tones.

It shifts it away from mean tone or pythagorean or whatever other
tuning system the clarinet was designed to.

> If you have ever had experience in playing together with a piano with
> rather flat tuning (it occurred several times in my life), then you know
> how difficult is to obtain a decent tuning over the full range of the
> clarinet.

We've got flat low notes. The strings won't tighten enough because
the frame is cracked. They stick out like sore thumbs ;-)


> Best regards,
> Diego
> Richard D Bush wrote:
>> Dear Diego,
>> The fact that your clarinets have 66mm barrels, in and of itself,
>> means very little to the overall pitch of your instruments. I know
>> that most student model clarinets made today also have 66mm barrels.
>> What you may not know is that the manufacturers cut one to two
>> millimeters from the top end of the upper joint. The mouthpiece, its
>> bore where it joins the barrel, its internal displacement also affect
>> the tuning of the instrument.
>> Have you ever tried using tuning rings to lengthen a clarinet's
>> length? This is a common problem with most student model clarinets. I
>> find that even when adding tuning rings to student model clarinets,
>> the opening heights of the throat tone keys (top ring key for open G,
>> the G#key and the A key) need to be changed to get the throat tones in
>> tune with the rest of the instrument.
>> Additionally, few manufacturers are careful about establishing a
>> correct key opening for the Bb/register key on their instruments.
>> Usually, the register keys are allowed to open way too much. This
>> causes the upper of the second register, and those notes just over the
>> register break (B natural and C) to play much sharper than they should.
>> Yours truly,
>> Richard Bush
>> On Nov 11, 2010, at 2:38 AM, Diego Casadei wrote:
>> wrote:
>>> Band directors: Try an experiment. Tune your bands to 439 for one
>>> month. I bet you never go back.
>> Not with modern instruments. =A0My clarinets play in tune, when they are
>> cold, at 442 Hz with a 66 mm barrel (the "normal" size is 65 mm for
>> them). =A0As soon as they warm up, I need to add roughly another
>> millimeter.
>> I can play at 440 Hz, but start feeling unbalance between "throat" tunes
>> and "all closed" notes. =A0Indeed, whatever we do with the barrel, the
>> holes stay in the same place. =A0Hence, for me 440 Hz is a problem. =A0G=
>> down will only make the situation worst.
>> Hence, if you want people to play more relaxed also in the acute ranges,
>> you really need to provide them with different instruments.
>> BTW, having 442 Hz as reference is also a problem for singers, so that I
>> really don't understand why we moved up to this reference. =A0Apart from
>> the fact that shortening an instrument is much more difficult than
>> adjusting the positioning of the barrel, so that the producers prefer to
>> stay on (their) safe side.
>> Cheers,
>> Diego
> --
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