Welcome to the second installment of the Internet forum field guide, a look at the inhabitants of the various woodwind-related message boards, forums, and email lists. (Read the first chapter here.) Today we will examine how the indigenous wildlife deal with conflicts.
One of the most common sources of conflict is the introduction of a dangerous threat into the community. It generally starts with an honest question:
Hey guys, just wondering which alloy gives an instrument a darker sound: 93% silver with 7% copper, or 97% silver with 3% copper? Thanks in advance.
Enter the troublemaker
Suddenly the herd’s status quo is endangered, unthinkably, by one of its own:
Well, actually, it turns out there’s over 100 years of well-documented, peer-reviewed scientific research that says the material makes no significant difference to the sound of a wind instrument. I know this because I went to the library and read actual books and journal articles about it.
The herd stampedes
This kind of affront is clearly unacceptable to the community, and they respond swiftly to correct the errant behavior. The alpha male is often the first to weigh in:
I have been playing for 40 years with some groups whose names you think you vaguely recognize, and I say the material does make a difference, so that should pretty much settle it.
He is followed shortly by a rival who will try to discredit the original poster:
I don’t need to go to a “library” or read “research” to know that your so-called “scientists” are full of “garbage.” Sure, some guy in a “laboratory” who has a “PhD” in “acoustics” and is trained in research “methods” and the use of scientific “equipment” thinks he can figure out stuff about musical instruments. Nice try, “science.” An ACTUAL MUSICIAN I know told me about a REAL study he did in his garage involving a stethoscope, a microphone from Radio Shack, and several high-quality legal pads. Case closed.
Others will seize the opportunity to boost their own standing in the pecking order through confusion tactics:
Oh, please, people. I guess nobody here bothered to consider how a longitudinal acoustical resonance vestibular wave moves through an anticrystalline transverse reverse-Newtonian solid in four dimensions. Any of you idiots who halfway understood that are now sending your instruments for cryogenic treatment followed by a 72-hour “settling” period in low Earth orbit.
And others will make a studied point of staying above the fray:
Personally I think “knowledge” is a waste of time. If you all actually cared about MUSIC, you would be spending your time being angsty and tortured like me.
Some try to settle the affair by appealing to a higher power:
Here’s the breakdown on finishes from our collective favorite instrument maker’s website:
- 24k Gold: a bolder sound, yet somehow also less bold.
- Rose gold: slightly insouciant, good for larger concert halls and equatorial latitudes.
- Bluish-gold: the inky black sound of death, also appropriate for wedding gigs.
- Select Australian kangaroowood: shrill and altogether unpleasant. Available in stained (not recommended) and unstained (also not recommended).
- “Vintage” weathered brass: both bright and dark, with just the right amount of flatness in the low register.
Guys, the instrument makers clearly have our best interests at heart and would never lie to us. If we all buy new horns, maybe they will forgive us for questioning their ad copy.
By about the fifth or sixth page of argument, an adolescent of the group finds the confidence to throw in a remark, referring back to either a comment from several pages prior, or to some imagined or misread comment:
i agree plantinuim sounds mch better
by the way i play a bundy
By the time the fray has abated, the original poster has generally fled for his life, lesson learned. If you are lucky enough to witness this drama unfolding in the wild, I strongly recommend that you keep a safe distance and keep well hidden.