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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000131.txt from 2010/11

From: "Keith Bowen" <keith.bowen@-----.com>
Subj: Re: [kl] Up to Pitch or Down to Pitch?
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 09:51:03 -0500

Hi Diego,

In English, 'perfect pitch' is used almost exclusively to refer to singers
who can sing any note of the scale from memory. If they have learned at
a'=440 and someone else has learned it at 442, then there's trouble.

You are of course correct that extending a clarinet in one part only alters
the pitch relationships between notes. But what we actually do is to pull
out at the barrel and middle tenon in order to get the upper and lower parts
of the scale near enough that we can tune them by embouchure, oral cavity
and special or shaded fingering.

This is always necessary. Instruments are made not only in one basic pitch
but in one basic temperament. It may be equal temperament or it may be
something else - sixth-comma meantone was common in the nineteenth century.
And the twelfths are not necessarily exact, so the upper register may be in
a different pitch/temperament to the lower.

We do not play in equal temperament. We play to get chords as in tune
(beat-free) as possible. Actual note pitches vary slightly with the position
of the note in the chord. This gives another problem for perfect-pitch
singers, as they have usually picked up something like equal temperament
from a piano. (And a piano is not tuned in perfect equal temperament, though
an electronic keyboard usually is).

Excellent references on this are: Eskelin, Lies My Music Teacher Told me,
and Duffin, How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (And Why You Should Care).

Keith

-----Original Message-----
From: Diego Casadei [mailto:casadei.diego@-----.com]
Sent: 12 November 2010 14:18
To: The Klarinet Mailing List
Subject: Re: [kl] Up to Pitch or Down to Pitch?

Thanks for your message :-)

In my mind "perfect pitch" could be only used to define a scale which
contains all tones in the correct relation (correct within the tolerance
of the best human hear).

So, I would say that an instrument plays with "perfect pitch" when tuned
say at A=440 Hz if the ratios of all tones with this frequency are
correct within the tolerance mentioned above.

If one take such instrument, say a clarinet, and elongates it
significantly to lower the reference A pitch, then the ratios would
change in different ways and the instrument with the new (lower) tuning
would not be any more in "perfect pitch".

But I must admit that I'm unsure that what I wrote is perfect English.
I hope people can understand me anyway.

Cheers,
Diego

PS: Just to make things more complicate, I should say that first of all
we should agree on the definition of the "correct" scale. Natural and
tempered scales are different, for example.

sfdr@-----.com wrote:
>
>
> 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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--

Diego Casadei
__________________________________________________________
Physics Department, CERN
New York University bld. 32, S-A19
4 Washington Place 1211 Geneve 23
New York, NY 10003 Mailbox J28310
USA Switzerland
office: +1-212-998-7675 office: +41-22-767-6809
mobile: +39-347-1460488 mobile: +41-76-213-5376
http://cern.ch/casadei/ Diego.Casadei@-----.ch
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