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Yamaha YCL-CSG-H Clarinets/Keywork

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#21
Pete: I am no expert, but I've owned a few horns in my time and played a lot more than that. I'm wondering if the normal variances among similar saxophone models has been factored into your comments. In my experience, I've found that numerous instruments of the same model have different tone, with a few exceptions.

I would think that it would take the playing of MANY of the same model to draw any conclusions as to overall tone. Wouldn't a mass of Conn-o-Saxes or F-Mezzos produce a variety of tones depending on numerous extraneous factors? What if you had many HP horns and LP horns (like Dr. Cohen's two sopranos); maybe the next comparison would produce a better LP than HP tone?

I have two Buescher TrueTone LP sopranos, silver-plate, about 4500 numbers apart (237xxx and 233xxx). They are different from each other, albeit both are good players.

I once tested numerous Yamaha pro-line altos and found a world of difference among them.

The only saxophone model that I've found with a consistent tone was the Selmer Ref 54 altos. While some played better than others, they all sounded similar.

As to clarinets, I have a C-clarinet and while it plays most of the same notes as my Bb soprano clarinets, the C has a definite "smallness" in sound while the Bb models all seem to have more depth in their tone when playing the same notes as the C.
The simple answer is, "I don't know."

I do agree with you that, when you're talking vintage instruments, there can be significant variances between them, even if they are only a few serial numbers apart. However, you then get into the arguments of how much the player can compensate for the tone and how do certain makes/models get a reputation for something (like, "Yamahas are bright horns").

In the case of a Conn-O-Sax vs. an Eb alto, I think it's both the design and how it's played. It was demonstrated, on another thread, that the Conn-O-Sax (and F Mezzo Soprano) have a bore much more like a Bb soprano and have a mouthpiece that matches. The Eb alto should be darker and fuller for this reason. You could also argue that it's the way the horn's played: you can play the C melody tenor so that it has more of a reedy, bassoonish quality or you can say, "It's just another tenor" and play it as such.

With the two Evette-Schaeffer sopranos, for HP vs. LP? I dunno. All I can say is that I could tell a difference and I liked the HP one better. (FWIW, I seem to remember something saying that HP was "better" in some way, but the reason why LP won out was because you didn't have to tighten your strings as much, thus saving wear and tear on your $10 million Stradivarius.)

In your experience with the C clarinet, just to support SOTSDOs point (so good he posted it twice), I'd wonder if it's the instrument, not the pitch. Or the mouthpiece. Again, too many variables. I've played all of one C clarinet (which, oddly, was HP), one A and two Eb sopraninos -- ever.

Finally, you've got the question of player vs. audience: the player might say that horn X is too stuffy, while the audience can't hear any difference. I can accept that.
 

Groovekiller

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#22
In the 1950s, my dad gave lessons in a music store with another teacher who was a great trombone player named Johnny Reger. Johnny had perfect pitch.

One day a famous bandleader came into the store, looking for Mr. Reger to hire him to go on the road. The store owner didn't want to lose his prize trombone teacher, so he lied and said Johnny wasn't in. When Reger found out what happened, he never forgave his boss, who was a mediocre clarinet player.

The store owner never believed Reger had perfect pitch, and one day he said, "I'm going to turn my back and play something. I'll bet you can't tell what key I'm in." And he played a quick lick while hiding his clarinet.

Johnny said, "You're in the key of A and you're playing on an A clarinet."

"You're right!" said his boss. "It's amazing that you can tell the difference in tone between a Bb and an A clarinet."

Johnny Reger said, "I can't. You're not a good enough player to play that lick in A on a Bb clarinet."
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#24
In a woodwind, one of the parameters of the harmonic content of any note is how loud the note is played.

Listen to the opening of the 2nd mvt of the Ibert. It almost sounds like a flute, regardless of the player.
Hakukani is correct. At the softest levels a saxophone tone is nearly a pure sine wave containing only the fundamental. As the sound level and pressure against the reed increases the first and second overtones volume increases exponentially greater that that of the fundamental. At the pressure level that causes the vibrating reed to actually close off the opening at the top of its oscillation, then all of the harmonics join in and increase and decrease at the same rate as the fundamental.

It is this sound will all of the formants present that characterizes the tone and quality of sound we associate with each wind instrument.

John
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#25
Hakukani is correct. At the softest levels a saxophone tone is nearly a pure sine wave containing only the fundamental. As the sound level and pressure against the reed increases the first and second overtones volume increases exponentially greater that that of the fundamental. At the pressure level that causes the vibrating reed to actually close off the opening at the top of its oscillation, then all of the harmonics join in and increase and decrease at the same rate as the fundamental.

It is this sound will all of the formants present that characterizes the tone and quality of sound we associate with each wind instrument.

John
And a clarinet sounds like a little trumpet in a lot of classical works ... which is why it's called a clarinet.

However, if you take a synthesizer and set it to play a pure sine wave, it sounds an awful lot like a clarinet. Not so much like a flute or sax.

In most synthesizers*, you take various kinds of sound waves and add them together to create a sound. You don't have to do much for a passable clarinet sound. Sax? Next to impossible, as can be proven by sitting down at just about any synth and playing the sax patch for more than 2 seconds.

==========

* There are lots off different ways synthesizers make sounds. One of the more common ways, these days, is to take an already sampled sound and add stuff to it. However, another way is to take a complex sound and shave stuff off of it using filters. Fun and somewhat interesting, but quickly goes beyond my area of expertise: I took a college course (and taught one of the classes) in synthesizers back when the Roland D50 and Yamaha DX7 were the big things.
 
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