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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000191.txt from 2010/11

From: "Keith Bowen" <keith.bowen@-----.com>
Subj: Re: [kl] Jennifer's question
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2010 14:30:17 -0500

I think it was Tony Pay who was right ... but whatever, there was no
intention to hurt you, Jennifer.

Keith

-----Original Message-----
From: Jennifer Jones [mailto:helen.jennifer@-----.com] =

Sent: 14 November 2010 18:51
To: The Klarinet Mailing List
Subject: Re: [kl] Jennifer's question

'Spozed' hurts.

I don't like that I wrote this:

>> It is mind blowing to me (and well outside my narrow experience) that
clarinets could be designed for specific centering pitches within 3Hz of one
another. With all the variations in temperature and humidity between
performance venues, seasons and the huge number of variables in simply
designing and machining the instrument, that sort of precision seems
difficult.

and this:

> And therefore, the whole conversation is silly (instruments designed
> to play 3 Hz off of one another?) A fun thought to entertain for a
> while. :-)

Especially this:

> A fun thought to entertain for a while.

It hurts to read them afterwards and the response hurts.

> And what we wind up with is an instrument that the community in general
accepts as being a reasonable tool for producing what we agree a clarinet is
'spozed' to sound like at the agreed pitch.

Keith Bowen is right.

-Jennifer

On Sun, Nov 14, 2010 at 9:41 AM, Tony Pay <tony.p@-----.org> wrote:
> (I've changed the subject of this thread so that it isn't mixed up with
stuff about "what equal temperament 'means'":-(
>
> On 13 Nov 2010, at 11:34, Jennifer Jones wrote:
>
>> It is mind blowing to me (and well outside my narrow experience) that
clarinets could be designed for specific centering pitches within 3Hz of one
another. =A0With all the variations in temperature and humidity between
performance venues, seasons and the huge number of variables in simply
designing and machining the instrument, that sort of precision seems
difficult.
>
> I think it's instructive to consider why this might seem a puzzle. =A0The
answer is bound up with how we understand the world of clarinet playing --
indeed, how we understand the whole world of music making, and much else
about human culture.
>
> The thing to see is that we are hardly ever at the real beginning of a
substantial piece of of culture. =A0Everything is a development of, or a
reaction to, what has gone before. =A0(Think of language.) =A0So, nobody th=
at we
know ever designed a clarinet from scratch, in isolation. =A0They proceeded=
by
modifying what was already available.
>
> What's more, they acted under the stimulus of players; even if their idea
was new, it got modified by feedback from existing players pretty quickly.
>
> So, when we say a particular model of clarinet 'is designed to play at a
particular pitch', we are making a statement about a large collection of
objects that has come to be (or hopes to be) embedded in a constantly
renewed population of players, makers and audiences. =A0(The players sort of
evaporate off at one end, and get initiated at the other:-)

This feels nice. Especially "(The players sort of evaporate off at
one end, and get initiated at the other:-)"

> We are saying that any of these objects can be played, more or less at
that pitch, by a group of people who have learned how to make them work
according to an accepted canon of musical performance. =A0And we mean also
that these people have learned how to make them work at that pitch in
varying circumstances -- different reeds, different mouthpieces, different
temperatures (the pitch of a clarinet is strongly affected by ambient
temperature) -- and so on.
>
> So how the 'design' of a clarinet develops has a lot in common with
evolution. =A0And what we wind up with is an instrument that the community =
in
general accepts as being a reasonable tool for producing what we agree a
clarinet is 'spozed' to sound like at the agreed pitch.
>
> Of course, a player develops in this way too, beginning with their
decision to embark on the road of becoming a clarinet player, with the study
and practice that that entails.
>
> Because people's mouths come in different shapes and sizes, sometimes
different players end up with slightly different versions of a particular
piece of kit. =A0But they all have to start SOMEWHERE in their journey towa=
rds
the canon -- and the pitch of the canon, A=3D440, A=3D442 or whatever -- so
that's why we give them something that's spozed to play OK for them to work
on.
>
> Now, one thing that acoustics teaches us is how we can CHANGE the pitch of
something that is spozed to play at a given pitch. =A0So if the standard of
pitch changes, we know what to do to alter a clarinet 'at' A=3D440 so that =
it
becomes a clarinet 'at' A=3D442 -- roughly, shrink it by a quite accurately
determinable amount. =A0So that sort of calculation is what I imagine
instrument makers perform.
>
>> I thought it interesting that the high clarinets website from the
university of Edinburgh mentioned an Eb sopranino clarinet that has a
particularly flat lower register.
>>
>> http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/ugw/ugwf1e.html
>> (1041) Clarinet in Eb, M=FCller type (possibly continental Europe, c 185=
0)
>
> As Lesley explains in her video, that's a thing that sometimes happens
when the bore of an instrument warps over time. =A0The clarinet becomes 'out
of tune with itself'. =A0That can often be corrected by reaming out the bor=
e,
which usually contracts. =A0(You can also tell how much it has contracted,
because wood shrinks in a constant proportion with and against the grain,
allowing you to reconstruct the dimensions of the circular cross-section
that has become elliptical.)
>
>> With your experience playing period clarinets, (or modern clarinets for
that matter), do you find that certain clarinets "sit" better at certain
pitches, e.g., 440Hz or 442? =A0Does this vary with season, e.g., winter vs.
summer?
>
> Yes; with experience, and when the instrument is well-in-tune with itself,
I guess one can tell roughly what pitch it was spozed to go at, making some
(I would say) reasonable assumptions about the sort of sound it was spozed
to make.
>
> Tony
> --
>
> Tony Pay
> 79 Southmoor Rd
> Oxford OX2 6RE
> tel/fax +44 1865 553339
> mobile +44 7790 532980
> tony.p@-----.org

On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 6:33 AM, Jennifer Jones
<helen.jennifer@-----.com> wrote:
> Has anyone?
>
> On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 6:30 AM, Jennifer Jones
> <helen.jennifer@-----.com> wrote:
>> I simply ask whether anyone who has played lots of clarinets finds
>> that some sit better with A centered at certain pitches (e.g. 439, 440
>> or 442Hz).
>>
>> On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 4:38 AM, Peter Gentry
>> <peter.gentry@-----.uk> wrote:
>>> I'm simply impressed that you can all recognise (hear) the difference
>>> between 440 and 442. I doubt many audiences would.
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Jennifer Jones [mailto:helen.jennifer@-----.com]
>>> Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 11:34 AM
>>> To: The Klarinet Mailing List
>>> Subject: Re: [kl] RES: Orchestral Pitch
>>>
>>> Tony,
>>>
>>> With your experience playing period clarinets, (or modern clarinets
>>> for that matter), do you find that certain clarinets "sit" better at
>>> certain pitches, e.g., 440Hz or 442? Does this vary with season,
>>> e.g., winter vs. summer? I thought it interesting that the high
>>> clarinets website from the university of Edinburgh mentioned an Eb
>>> sopranino clarinet that has a particularly flat lower register.
>> [snip footer and additional portions of message]
>>
>

On Sat, Nov 13, 2010 at 3:34 AM, Jennifer Jones
<helen.jennifer@-----.com> wrote:
> Tony,
>
> With your experience playing period clarinets, (or modern clarinets
> for that matter), do you find that certain clarinets "sit" better at
> certain pitches, e.g., 440Hz or 442? Does this vary with season,
> e.g., winter vs. summer? I thought it interesting that the high
> clarinets website from the university of Edinburgh mentioned an Eb
> sopranino clarinet that has a particularly flat lower register.
>
> http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/ugw/ugwf1e.html
> (1041) Clarinet in Eb, M=FCller type (possibly continental Europe, c 1850)
>
> It is mind blowing to me (and well outside my narrow experience) that
> clarinets could be designed for specific centering pitches within 3 Hz
> of one another. With all the variations in temperature and humidity
> between performance venues, seasons and the huge number of variables
> in simply designing and machining the instrument, that sort of
> precision seems difficult.
>
> -Jennifer
>
>
> On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 5:27 PM, Tony Pay <tony.p@-----.org> wrote:
>> On 13 Nov 2010, at 00:23, Tom Servinsky wrote:

[snip]

>> Outside the piano world, however, equal temperament has a precise
scientific meaning that corresponds to the tuning on the electronic devices
professional musicians use, such as the Korg and other machines and the
Cleartune iPhone app. It refers to the division of the octave into 12 equal
semitones produced by a frequency ratio between any two consecutive
semitones of 2^(1/12). This division is made irrespective of what the
machine is tuned to: A=3D440Hz, A=3D442Hz, or whatever.
>>
>> Interestingly, the iPhone app is very sophisticated, offering a variety
of temperaments other than equal temperament:

[snip]
>> It's worth adding that professional musicians, if they are wise, use such
machines only to a very limited extent. As Keith has indicated, we
habitually adjust intonation on the fly, tempering intervals according to a
system that might be called, 'locally just'. The references I provided in
my previous post, particularly the second one, engage in quite detailed
discussion and argument about this.
>>
>> Tony
>> --
>> Tony Pay
>> 79 Southmoor Rd
>> Oxford OX2 6RE
>> tel/fax +44 1865 553339
>> mobile +44 7790 532980
>> tony.p@-----.org

On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 9:44 AM, Keith Bowen <keith.bowen@-----.com> wrote:
> Martin
>
> I would still maintain that it is very stupid! The reasons are as follows.
>
> 1. The overall pitch normally does change slightly during a performance,
> maybe as instruments warm up, maybe as the temperature of the hall or
> outside changes. Strings go sharp as temperature rises, wind goes flat.
> Maybe they average, maybe one 'side' wins. But in any event it is
> imperceptible to the audience as long as all the players try to stay in
tune
> with each other. Rather than listen to the oboe, the better technique is
to
> listen to the bass instruments as they are the fundamental of the chord.
If
> the oboe or anyone is tuning with the needle of the meter and not with
their
> ears, THEY will be out of tune.
>
> 2. Tuners usually show equal temperament; thus the needle will anyway only
> be right at A and its octaves. Orchestras don't play equal temperament.
>
> 3. More subtly, a pitch depends on its position in a chord. Here's an
> example to show, with two players with good ears. First they play a
perfect
> fifth, C to G, and tune it so that it sounds good, ie beatless. Then the
> second player changes from G to B and again makes it beatless (by the
second
> player tuning his note) - an in-tune major seventh. Then the first player
> changes to a G, being careful to play the same pitch as the second player
> originally did. The second player now retunes his B to sound well in tune
> (beatless) with the G. He will have to lower the pitch quite audibly.
>
> The reason is that the tonality has changed; B is now the third of the
> dominant chord rather than the seventh of the tonic, and the pitches at
> which one gets beatless (in tune) chords have changed with the key. This
is
> of course another consequence of five octaves not equalling eight fifths.
>
> When we play with string or wind instruments we are doing this sort of
thing
> all the time. The oboe a'=3D440 might start off as the seventh of a work =
in
B
> major. If the work eventually modulates to Bb she is now playing the third
> of the dominant, and it will almost certainly be a different pitch.
>
> See Eskelin's book for more details.
>
> Keith
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Martin Baxter [mailto:martinbaxter1@-----.com]
> Sent: 12 November 2010 16:21
> To: The Klarinet Mailing List
> Subject: Re: [kl] RES: Orchestral Pitch
>
>
> On 12 Nov 2010, at 12:26, Keith Bowen wrote:
>
> 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
> If the Orchestra's tuning note is taken from the oboe, and the oboist is
in
> tune with his tuner I would maintain that there is nothing stupid in the
> oboist's contention.
> Martin
[snip footers]

These hurt too:

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On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 9:37 PM, Bill Hausmann <bhausmann1@-----.net>
wrote:
> But the increased projection is itself a myth. The problem is that the
ear is relatively insensitive to SHARPNESS, but VERY sensitive to FLATNESS.

This is a strange phenomenon. If one player is sharp, then the rest
of the band is flat. Is the flatness of the band relative to the
sharp soloist disturbing? Or does it go unnoticed, because of the
sheer difference in number of players in the two camps. The "flat"
band is actually in tune because of the large number of players and
the soloist's sharpness goes unnoticed. Alternatively, the flat alto
sax in the second row stands out like a sore thumb relative to the "in
tune" band. Nevermind the sharp soloist.
- Hide quoted text -

> Have you ever heard the expression, "I'd rather be sharp than out of
tune?" Some folks deliberately tune sharp, partly to avoid being flat, but
mostly to achieve "more brilliance." The sharpness DOES make the player
stand out a bit, at least to himself, thus giving rise to the increased
projection nonsense, without making him APPEAR to be out of tune. All the
other violins in the section, of course, eventually adjust their tuning to
match, beginning a cycle of spiraling pitch. String players are the most
notorious in this regard, since they can crank their strings up to whatever
silly pitch they want. Clarinet players struggle, bite, buy shorter
barrels, etc. to try to keep up. Having an international standard -- ANY
international standard -- was a great thing, and we had one, A=3D440 Hz, fo=
r a
long time. But SOME people could not leave a good thing alone. We are
headed back to the day when each TOWN has its own standard pitch.
>
> Bill Hausmann
>
> If you have to mic a saxophone, the rest of the band is TOO LOUD!
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