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Thread: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

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    Default Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    I am working on getting a custom barrel made, so recorded these clips to help the maker hear what I'm looking for. Before you ask, I DO like my Backun MoBa...it will stay in my case. It still doesn't quite have everything I want though. I won't be winning any awards for playing clarinet anytime soon (since it's been about 10 years since I stopped practicing it!) but the sound is still acceptable...so I decided to put it here for fun. Comments are fine if you feel like it.

    http://soundcloud.com/lodog00/sets/clarinet-clips

    I used this setup:
    Leblanc Concerto
    Lomax Chicago 13
    Vandoren V12 3.5

    I rotated between these ligatures and barrels
    Vandoren Optimum Ligature w/ Parallel plate
    Vandoren Leather Ligature w/ Metal plate
    Stock Leblanc 66m barrel
    MoBa Grenadilla 66mm barrel

    bonus points for anyone that can guess the exact combination of ligature barrel between the 4! Sorry about the undertones...I need to practice!

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    That was about as close as one could come to being all the same that I've heard. DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    yeah. kind of part of the point of this "fun" test as well.

    There IS a difference, but it's very minute. I can hear it because I know my exact sound with the combinations. In other words, if I hear myself play, I know what to listen for, given my tonal tendencies. Even then...I had to listen twice to the clips (they're labeled generically) and compare with the original names to make sure I knew which was which. If I had fooled myself with my own playing, it would've been an interesting feat!

    So...anyone venture to guess the ligature/barrel combos?

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    That was about as close as one could come to being all the same that I've heard. DAVE
    It's actually more samer than you'd expect from the same setup. It doesn't surprise me as I don't see (for a start) why a ligature would make a difference. And if the barrel is the same bore, that wouldn't make much difference.

    Nice sound though I must say.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    The ligature affects response and resonance of certain notes. It's minor, but noticeable. Certain reed profiles also work better for different ligatures. I was getting slightly more undertone (clue!) on some of the clips above because my reed was balanced to work with one ligature, and didn't want to cooperate with the other.

    The barrel makes a very big difference. It's not just the bore...it's the taper, where it starts, the entrance and exit bores, the length of taper, etc. It affects intonation and response, and the air flow. I can't speak for anyone else, but I also feel a personal physical connection to the airstream...when it changes because of a different internal configuration, I can tell just from the feedback and change in resistance.

    With that said...the mouthpiece and reed make a much more drastic difference than any of that. And of course, it starts with personal sound concept.

    Though it wouldn't be my ideal choice, I could use the exact equipment above and get traditional New Orleans, Artie-Shaw type lead clarinet, or more Buddy DeFranco-type tonalities. But you'll have to take my word on it, I don't feel like recording all that

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    If I HAD to make a choice, I woulda picked the first one, but they were VERY close. I do accept the premise that the player may hear subtle differences and more importantly, FEEL differences, but for the listening audience? Not so much. Now about making this set-up sound like traditional New Orleans . . . DAVE
    Dave

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    Default

    Something about the first clip sounds better to me. Especially in the high register. The notes seem a bit rounder and prettier. Number 3 sounded brighter up there to me and I didn't like that as much.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    yeah, Dave. Honestly, in front of an audience, changing your reed will have a bigger tonal effect...a bad reed on really really great equipment basically ruins everything
    I'll have to pull out my Hot Fives and Sevens records and listen to some Johnny Dodds. MAYBE I'll record something. lol. I can get the sound, but don't really have the vocabulary, so I hesitate to put that out on the web...I always liked Johnny Dodds, and Barney Bigard, but in general N'awlins just ain't my thing. If you don't mind hearing bop vocabulary with a New Orleans sound...

    #3 is also my least favorite, Steve. That combination doesn't get used much, unless I need to cut through something in a more "classical" setting.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Well, once again, it is the technique, not the tone (with the exception of Bechet - nobody gets that tone 'cept ol' Sidney) that makes for trad N'Awlins, in my opinion. Once you drift into bebop, its over. Guys like Dodds, Noone, Simeon, Bigard, Darnell Howard . . . it was the technique that set them apart. One other N.O. player with a unique tone was George Lewis but others I've heard have achieved similar results as Lewis, both in tone and technique. DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    well...I guess you won't be hearing any of that then

    I learned a little bit for the Early Duke Ellington stuff and I also transcribed some Johnny Dodds to be able to play some more idiosyncratic things over some Louis Armstrong stuff. The swing era is about as early as I get though in terms of what I hear more naturally...lol. As you mentioned before, Artie Shaw is too modern for you, ha.

    As you may have heard on the Green Dolphin Street clip I have floating about, I'm mostly a Bebopper when it comes to Jazz...

    And I use a different setup for all the jazz related things. Though I suppose I can use my classical setup (and have) my other setup lends itself better to my jazz conception.


    So...noone is going to venture a guess as to what ligature and barrel combinations the four clips are?

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    well, it seems noone is going to guess, so to finally beat this dead horse. The combos were as follows:

    clip 1 - Vandoren Leather Ligature, Stock Barrel
    clip 2 - Vandoren Leather Ligature, Backun MoBa
    clip 3 - Vandoren Optimum, Stock Barrel
    clip 4 - Vandoren Optimum, Backun MoBa

    I had a long post explaining how you could tell (at least if it was me playing), but this being mostly a saxophone forum, I'm not sure it really matters. lol.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    That was about as close as one could come to being all the same that I've heard. DAVE
    I totally agree. But we can imagine whatever we like and it will probably happen in our minds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    It's actually more samer than you'd expect from the same setup. It doesn't surprise me as I don't see (for a start) why a ligature would make a difference. And if the barrel is the same bore, that wouldn't make much difference....
    I totally agree. But we can imagine whatever we like and it will probably happen in our minds.

    It's like comparing the performance of a red car and a yellow car, supposedly but otherwise not necessarily identical.

    I reckon changing the location of a reed by an imperceptible 0.05 mm would probably make a heap more difference than changing the ligature.

    In those clips there is plenty of stuff to practice getting better (mainly finger coordination) without worrying about these other things.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    I reckon changing the location of a reed by an imperceptible 0.05 mm would probably make a heap more difference than changing the ligature.

    In those clips there is plenty of stuff to practice getting better (mainly finger coordination) without worrying about these other things.
    Agreed. The reed itself is enough to essentially nullify any advantage or disadvantage of a ligature or barrel. Within reason. Something more consistent like Legere does minimize those kinds of variables, but it has its own issues.

    What do you hear, Gordon? Coordination in terms of timing, or coordination in terms of pressing down keys simultaneously?

    Steve - I'm using the metal plate. The leather pads just remove too many overtones...though the hard leather pad isn't too bad. For a while I used the hard leather pad, but I decided that the metal one had the best balance of vibrance and darkness that I'm trying to achieve.

    Any sound in your head that you imagine is possible on any equipment (within reason relative to its design). But changing equipment does facilitate different things one direction or another. It's not as simple as "ligatures make no difference", nor is it as simple as "barrel X makes you sound darker".

    And each clip is different...just subtly so. I think anyone who listens closely enough (but you can't use really crappy speakers...the recording is already not very high resolution) will hear the subtle differences, even if you can't guess what equipment was used.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009 Keith Ridenhour's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Nice tone, Batman. Makes me want to check out the piece you used. K
    Teaching and performing since 1980 . My best K .

    Bands I gig with are http://www.myspace.com/jamijamisonband,www.thewhiskeythieves.com/,Sue Albano, The Joe Chaplain Band, BackTrax (60 70s coverband), and my webpage is http://ksaxman.com/

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Thanks Keith. I have some new clips coming. I've been practicing some long tones...lol.

    The piece I used was made by Mike Lomax, of Lomaxclassic. It's a "Chicago 13" model. His prices have risen significantly over the years (as, unfortunately, everyone else it seems) but I still recommend them...very projecting pieces, flexible for multiple genres. I get enough projection on the Chicago to play lead in a big band as well. I have been using the piece since it first came out (probably 7-8 years ago) but am in the process of looking for another mouthpiece to tweak my "classical" sound slightly.

    Still using a Leblanc Concerto, but I've finally settled with a selection of barrels, ligatures, and bell that I think pretty much gives me the entire tonal spectrum I want. Yes, the sound is from the player, etc etc etc...but all equipment matters if you want to tweak that sound. Key word being tweak.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Nice sound! I just recently tried a different barrel after having played the same set up for almost 5 years, and what a difference. (This is a Fobes mpc with a Fobes barrel, if anyone was curious). Its like a new spectrum of sound and flexibility has been opened up. So I agree, the tweaking part of the equation is worth checking into once you have played your set-up long enough and understand what you aren't getting from it. (For anyone who plays a Fobes piece, the difference playing his mpc with a matched Fobes barrel is night and day, worth checking out--should have done so earlier...

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    To be clear: acoustically speaking barrels are in a much different class than ligs or bells. Because the barrel modifies the geometry of the air column way upstream , it can and does have a big effect both on acoustic spectrum and intonation, as well as response--much the same way a mpc does. A bell is an impedance matching device and really cannot have a major effect except in the lowest notes. A lig is a clamp. Pure and simple--unless it changes the position of the reed on an uneven table.

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    Default Re: Blindfold test - barrels and ligatures

    Quote Originally Posted by ving View Post
    .... a Fobes mpc with a Fobes barrel, if anyone was curious....
    What model mouthpiece? On which clarinet? What barrel length?

    Yeah, I'm curious
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    Daigle, the combos are listed above.

    All on 66mm barrels, all on Leblanc Concerto Bb clarinet, same reed (V12 3.5)

    These are now old, and I've tweaked my setup again. I'll put new clips up...if you liked the sound here, you'll really like the sound on the new ones! In these clips, they were hastily done and I had just started playing clarinet seriously again after a 7 year hiatus (where I played it occasionally, but didn't practice or play seriously). These were made for the benefit of a custom barrel maker to have an idea of what I want.

    I've had a few weeks now to get my long tones together, and also refine my sound.

    The barrel is a critical junction point. The mouthpiece is more important, and so is the reed...and ultimately the player decides how it all sounds...but the barrel shapes the air column, and in this regard, it's important the taper work for you. I have two custom tapers made for me, and they achieve specific goals for different tonal spectrums (I have a barrel made to play very light airy, and one made to play with a dark robust sound).

    also, I agree that matching a barrel to a mouthpiece is important. I own a Forbes barrel that I previously used on a Forbes mouthpiece...and it just plain works. When I switched mouthpieces a while back, the barrel just didn't sound as good. I am now playing a Fobes piece again, and the old barrel again sounds amazing. Definitely heed the mpc makers' suggestions for recommended barrel combos...especially if they also make the barrel themselves!

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