Equipment suggestions for improving intonation

Discussion in 'The Leblanc Family' started by KKlarinett, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Oooh. Multiquote DOES work here. I must make a note of that.

    Anyhow, I've never really noticed a difference. I was always under the impression that you used those things if a) you had a specific length you were pulling out and wanted to be consistent or b) you wanted to try to make the mouthpiece/barrel wobble less when you pull out.

    I also fail to see how a gap between the barrel and the top joint would cause a problem. After all, the barrel seals at the tenon cork. Or am I missing something?
     
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Well, you have a temporary widening of the bore at the gap.

    According to some, this is part of the design.

    I don't know. I don't use tuning rings, since I can't adjust on the fly that way.
     
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    You'd have to pull out a lot for there to be a gap, at least more than 2mm. I think. I don't have a clarinet here to measure. You'd be looking at the "space" between the barrel's bore and the actual end of the barrel compared with the length of the tenon.

    One of you barrel-making guys, take a measurement :).

    The question would be moot if you were referring to a metal "skeleton" clarinet or clarinets with metal necks, such as the bass: you're just making the horn longer by pulling out the barrel/neck.

    Also, one needs to remember that if you're changing the length of the horn, you're changing the intonation across (virtually) all of it. In other words, if you're only having a problem with a note, you probably should adjust how you're playing, rather than moving the barrel or mouthpiece.

    The clarinet is somewhat unusual in that you can pull out joints in a variety of places to try to improve the intonation. However, if a joint is consistently sharp, there's probably a mechanical problem.
     
  4. MartinMods

    MartinMods

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    Well, if you have a gap at your barrel/body coupling, it's not like a big red sign is going to pop out of your C/G tone hole saying, "Stop! I'm not working any more until you fix the gap." The horn will still sound like a clarinet, and probably 90% of the clarinet players in the world won't notice anything and even a larger portion of the listening public. That said, it is an acoustical fact that gaps in the bore cause energy loss and can cause intonation problems, (Actually the thinner and deeper the gap, the more the loss, so a .5mm wide gap is worse than a 2mm gap. Benade was emphatic about this in his advice to his students.) and there is a certain % of players who are concerned about this kind of thing. The more accomplished of a player you are, the more picky you become about how your horn works, or doesn't work, if you will. If you play professionally, as a recording musician, or orchestral musician, where everything is in tune and as perfect as it can be, things like that are noticed, and it's a very competitive scene. Anything that can give you an edge over the next guy is made use of. It could mean the difference between getting the call for the next gig or not.

    So, some guys say you should wet your reed before you play. You don't have to. You can still get by starting out on a dry reed lots of the time, and some people won't even notice. Wetting your reed usually won't make you play worse though, so you don't have anything to loose other than the time it takes to do it. Whether that is worth it or not is, in the end, up to the individual I guess.
     
  5. Tammi

    Tammi Private woodwind instructor

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    All this yack about internal dimensions of a mouthpiece, pulling joints, and filling in the gaps created by said pulling, and no one has thought to ask what the clarinet is being tuned to.

    Are you tuning with a digital/mechanical tuner set at 440, keyboard, or other piano that may be in need of tuning itself?

    The ansewer to that question might be of help in figuring out why you are playing so sharp.
     
  6. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    I'd call it an interesting side discussion.

    Regarding what you're tuning to, I really don't see how that matters. Examples:

    * I use a digital tuner set to A=440 and I play sharp across most of the horn. Solution: pull out at the barrel.

    * I use a digital tuner set to A=442 and I play sharp across most of the horn. Solution: pull out at the barrel.

    * I use a piano to tune to and I play sharp across most of the horn in comparison to the piano. Solution: pull out at the barrel.

    * I play in an orchestra and I tune to whatever the oboe plays, but I'm sharp across most of the horn in comparison to the oboe. Solution: pull out at the barrel.

    * I play in a trio and I tune to whatever the lead plays, but I'm sharp across most of the horn in comparison to the lead. Solution: pull out at the barrel.

    I think the only real problem would be is if you're trying to tune an A=440/442 clarinet to something that's A=457. However, you'd be consistently flat in comparison to the A=457 instrument(s).
     
  7. Tammi

    Tammi Private woodwind instructor

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    nevermind
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  8. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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  9. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    The maker of my clarinet specifically explains that his clarinets are made so they play best with the barrel open 1mm. They can be closed all the way, which means tehre will be a gap inside the bore. I've never had a problem with the barrel completely closed or open a lot more than 1mm, in problematic weather, without using rings. One problem tuning rings can cause is not being able to close the barrel more, which you might need to do if you play another instrument and the clarinet is resting. My experience with tuning rings is that any difference they cause is basically insignifcant compared with other differences that cause to open the barrel in the first place.

    Unless someone happens to play with the same flat piano and that is their only indication to being sharp. In the other situations you described I assume decent players who play realtively around 441 (excluding instruments specifically made to play in another pitch). If you find out five mintues before the concert, sure, do what you can to play in tune with the piano. But if this is a consistent problem with the same piano then check the piano, and check your intonation another way too.
     
  10. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Well, the reason why you tune to the "whatever" is because ... that's what your tuning solution is.

    In an orchestra, for instance, the reason why you tune to the piano or oboe is because those instruments are hard to get into tune: in the piano's case, you need a repair tech to come out to the piano and spend an hour tuning it. In the oboe's case, you need a different player with a different oboe.

    OK, I'm half joking about the oboe. They're just that hard to tune.

    What I'm talking about, of course, is relative intonation. While it might be great if we all got out our electronic tuners and tuned an A exactly to 440hz (or some multiple thereof) and the tuner's needle is straight up, you're still out of tune if your "whatever" is out of tune.

    However, I do agree with you that if the "whatever" is consistently out of tune, you need to tell the person that plays the "whatever" to get it in tune for the next gig or you'll beat him with a bassoon.
     
  11. Clarinet-Aaron

    Clarinet-Aaron

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    I've never used tuning rings, and actually didn't know what they were until I started reading this thread. I don't hear any change in my tone quality when I pull out on my horn, so I thought the only change was the intonation. Given my circumstances, using tuning rings would probably inhibit me, as my colleges ensemble is rarely tuned to the same pitch twice, the piano in our concert hall is really flat and the piano in the band room is different for every note, the piano in our library that nobody plays was recently tuned, but apparently the band room piano and the hall piano don't deserve it..... silly college. I may try them when playing by myself, but that's only if I happen to see them in the music store next time I'm there, not on the top of my list right now.
     
  12. PrincessJ

    PrincessJ

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    All that, or learn how to make do with what you have until you can get what you want so your instrument will play itself, speaking in terms of note-to-note intonation (i.e. everything is fine apart from A, etc, or worse).

    On a note of tuning to pitch...
    I don't use tuning rings as I've found no benefit other than to help remember where to go and what to do, but over time you memorize it like slide positions on a trombone.

    I have a drawer full of barrels for tuning to whatever I have to tune to, if I don't want to have to pull out too much or I have to go sharper for any reason.

    Oboes on the other hand, good luck, kids. Learn to lip up and down your note-to-note intonation, get a different reed, or get a different oboe if you can't do that... :D
     
  13. MartinMods

    MartinMods

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    Developed, conscientious players use tuning rings, not because having a big or little gap between the barrel and mouthpiece makes the clarinet play out of tune at all, rather, because the gap makes the clarinet feel/respond differently.

    If you are comfortable playing normally, i.e., you know just how to voice each note to get it to respond the way you want, with the tonal center you want, and then know what adjustments to make to get it in tune to the musical circumstance, and then you switch to a shorter barrel with a gap, your clarinet will suddenly become a bit of a stranger. The "sweet spot" for many notes will have changed. Suddenly, you are no longer comfortable, and as you start searching for the tongue placement/vocal tract resonance/embouchure that gives you the sound and response that you want, invariably, intonation starts to suffer. If you are in a musically competitive arena, this scenario is something you dearly want to avoid.

    If you are in a more relaxed environment and perhaps still searching for that "sweet spot" on every note, then still, you should give yourself every chance to find it. It is well documented that such gaps do not serve the player's advantage.
     

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