Posts tagged “acoustics”

December 4, 2010

Fingering chart for an imaginary woodwind

My woodwind methods class just took their last exam of the semester. During the past few weeks we have dealt with some of the issues of alternate fingerings—which clarinet pinky keys to use when, which oboe F fingering, and so on. My guess is that most of these students, who are in training to be ...

October 22, 2010

More on the science/fiction of woodwind materials

Photo, ~Bob~West~ There’s an interesting woodwind-related post by blogger “MarkCC” at Good Math, Bad Math, entitled “My Newest Flute, made of… Plastic?!” MarkCC recently acquired a new flute of the type used in Irish traditional music, the kind that are most often made of wood. But MarkCC’s is made of polymer, and it sounds like ...

June 26, 2008

New Grove on flute materials

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is widely used by college music students and is regarded by most (for better or for worse) as the unimpeachable source of all musical knowledge. In my studies for upcoming doctoral comprehensive exams, I ran across this in the “Flute” article: Materials used for the tube and ...

June 20, 2008

Playing in tune

I’ve been working on improving my pitch this summer. Why is it so difficult to play a woodwind instrument in tune? I believe there are three reasons: The instruments are, of necessity, built in a hopelessly compromised manner. A flute or bassoon or whatever that plays perfectly “in tune” doesn’t exist. (“In tune” is in ...

March 1, 2007

Does material affect tone quality in woodwind instruments?: Why scientists and musicians just can’t seem to agree

Most woodwind players would be surprised if you asked them whether the material from which their instrument is made affects its sound. Certainly!—most would reply. An inexpensive nickel-plated flute has a tone lacking in character and brilliance, but a fine silver flute sounds, well, silvery! It has a tone that sparkles, that sings, that carries ...
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