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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000128.txt from 2010/11

From: sfdr@-----.com
Subj: [kl] Up to Pitch or Down to Pitch?
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 08:59:47 -0500


My late LSU Professor John P. Patterson, was a student of the great acoustician Arthur Benade. Mr. Patterson said that the "Perfect" should never be used in describing pitch, as nobody has a ear keen enough to distinguish subtle pitch differences. He had a series of tuning bars, a-440, a-440.1, a-440.3, a-440.4 and a-440.6. He then invited 5 students with "Perfect Pitch" into his studio to identify the different pitch levels and none of them could do it. So how keen is the human ear? Pitch can vary form one person to another because air pressure, temperature, inner ear wax and ear fluid. A reed, violin bridge and clarinet bore can change dimensions within seconds thus causing the pitch to fluctuate.
When my repair teacher, W. Hans Moennig died, I inherited his tools and instruments. In the collection was a clarinet which belonged to Robert Marcellus. When I first saw this instrument in 1977, I ask about the 70mm barrel that was with it. Moennig said, Marcellus used the longer barrel to darken the sound and had all of the tone holes enlarged to compensate for the lower pitch level. Marcellus felt that he could obtain a better tone with more intensity put pushing to air faster on a lower pitched instrument that pushing the air slower on a higher pitched instrument.
After comparing the blueprints of woodwind instruments of today to those made during the 1940's and 50's, I discovered that drastic design changes have occurred. The wing joints of newer Heckel bassoons are 5 to 8 mm shorter. The lower joints of newer Loree Oboe are 3 to 5 mm shorter. Flute headjoints are shorter and clarinet bores are larger and the bells have smaller throat dimensions. All of the change are designed to help the player relax and play down to pitch center instead of biting to playing up to pitch pitch center. In other words, playing concepts and instrument design have evolved over the years to make performing easier for the musician. But easier is not necessarily better.
The question before us today is: Are we better off playing up to pitch of down to pitch? The concert master of the Philadelphia orchestra once asked Oboist, Marcel Tabuteau if he could bring the tuning A up a little bit. Tabuteau responded, "Sharpness is never a valid substitute for musical intensity".

Good luck,
Alvin Swiney
3126 W Cary St. #237
Richmond, VA 23221

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Bowen <keith.bowen@-----.com>
To: 'The Klarinet Mailing List' <klarinet@-----.com>
Sent: Fri, Nov 12, 2010 7:26 am
Subject: Re: [kl] RES: Orchestral Pitch

People do have so-called perfect pitch, ie they have an aural memory of
pitches and can reproduce them at will. Of course, the exact pitch depends
on the instrument, usually a piano, on which they acquired this memory. And
its temperament. So people indeed differ. The accuracy of this phenomenon, I
am told, is in the region 1 - 5 Hz at around a'=440, though I have not
tested this.

Claiming the whole orchestra was flat is as stupid as the first oboe
pointing to their tuner and saying that everyone else is out of tune.

Keith

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin Baxter [mailto:martinbaxter1@-----.com]
Sent: 12 November 2010 12:08
To: The Klarinet Mailing List
Subject: Re: [kl] RES: Orchestral Pitch

Hi Nancy,
On that theme could one have perfect pitch in Vienna?
When I was at Manchester University the other four members of my group for
Aural training all had perfect pitch, as did the tutor (Clifford Knowles,
who later led the Liverpool Phil.Orch. However they were not all quite in
tune with each other.Clifford was definitely sharp to A=440Hz, as was shown
at a rather disastrous concert where he was the soloist in the Beethoven
Concerto with the University Orchestra. Prof. Procter-Gregg had carefully
tuned the orchestra to his tuning fork, which was A=440. Clifford played
sharp to the orchestra the whole way through, and afterwards contended that
the orchestra was consistently flat.
Martin

On 11 Nov 2010, at 23:46, Nancy Buckman wrote:

So..... is there such a thing as perfect pitch? Is one person's more
perfect than another's? Please discuss!

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