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Music: conical vs cylindrical instruments

  1. Dec 10, 2004 #1
    a flute is cylindrical and when you hit the 2nd register (higher notes) the fingering is pretty much the same as on the base register. in other words, the jump is a regular octave.

    a clarinet is conical and the jump to the 2nd register is a 12 note jump from what i understand.

    can anyone explain why this is so?

    thanks!

    in friendship,
    prad
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 11, 2004 #2
    I want to know why you think a clarinet is conical. It is straight, like a flute, but played down and not up. They are both cylindrical. A French Horn is conical or a trumpet is as well.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  4. Dec 11, 2004 #3
    my apologies - i was misinformed (by the person who brought up the question - and didn't check) and also too strongly influenced by the bell LOL

    can you tell me though why the register jump is 12 in a clarinet and 8 in a flute?

    what would happen in a conical flute if such a thing were to be made?

    would an english horn be sort of like a conical clarinet (or flute for that matter)?

    thank you!

    in friendship,
    prad
     
  5. Dec 11, 2004 #4
    Could it be due to size ? if you turn a flute into a conical shaped flute it may be too hard to push some of the buttons to produce the same notes as a flute. Sounds like it can be done but a lot of work would have to go into it. I think all woodwinds are in the same key but flutes are made of silver and clarinets are made of plastic and wood and silver ? Also the Clarinet goes from small to large so as the sound of the reed is produced by the time it hits the end of the bell it makes the sound of a Clarinet :)

    If you take a flute and make it the shape of a Clarinet then wouldnt it produce a clarinet sound ? Well without the reed ofcoarse.

    The Reed woodwind setup and using just the mouth are different kinds of sound generating apatures and can potentially produce the same sound, but the register jump must have something to do with the size and shape of the instrument.

    An English horn is a brass instrument and produces a diff wavelength and is in the key note of bflat (cant remember) ? a mouthpiece produces a sawtooth wave,,,,,,the Clarinet is producing a square shaped wave, the flute given its size and straight tube produces a wave between sawtooth shaped wave and square wave. A little further a guitar produces a Sine Wave :) Maybe this is why music and math are so close, everything is determined by waves , shapes, size, cycles,

    I would like to see a conical shaped flute, there is a music store in Washinton State that makes exotic instruments, he made the famous Trumpet player Bobby Shew a trumpet with 4 valves and 2 bells.., a Tenner saxaphone that looks llike a giant serpent. He would be the one to talk to :) maybe he has made one or two.


    sincerely Dymium
     
  6. Dec 11, 2004 #5

    Hurkyl

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    English horn is a woodwind (double reed) in F. French horns are the brass ones, and they're typically double horns, with a toggle key to switch between F and Bb.

    I also seem to remember trumpets being cylindrical, but it's been a while since I've paid attention to that detail.


    I think a key part of the difference is that the sound from conical instruments are generated by spherical harmonics, with which I'm not entirely familiar.


    The "registers" in wind instruments essentially work on harmonics. With the flute, you blow in such a way that omits the first harmonic. You can do something similar with the other woodwinds, but it's more commonly done with the keys. The octave keys open a tiny hole that prevents the first harmonic from sounding.

    On a clarinet, the left thumb key opens a hole that doesn't affect the ability of the third harmonic to sound, but it prevents the first harmonic from sounding. Thus, pressing the thumb key when otherwise fingering a low F will cause the clarinet to sound a high C.

    Incidentally, the octave key isn't well placed for higher notes, like high A, which explains why it's easy to make a sound in the lower register when pressing the octave key.


    Being very similar to a closed pipe, the clarinet doesn't resonate very strongly at even harmonics, that's why it it wasn't designed to have a true "octave" key.
     
  7. Dec 13, 2004 #6
    thanks everyone for the info - lot's there to follow up on.
    i have a book by moravcsik - musical sound, that provides some explanations. it is not mathematical, but it may be sufficient.

    in friendship,
    prad
     
  8. Dec 13, 2004 #7

    russ_watters

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    Neither a french horn nor a trumpet is conical to any significant degree: like clarinets, they are cylindrical, with bells.

    Its been a while since I've thought about this stuff, but there is a big difference between the way woodwinds and brass instruments generate sound. With a clarinet or sax, the sound is generated by the vibration of the reed, with a flute, its generated by sound oscillation within the flute, and with a trumpet, its generated by vibration of your lips. The difference being, with a flute or clarinet, you need the rest of the instrument to make the sounds the right pitch: with a brass instrument, the instrumet is mostly just an amplifier. A good trumpet player can play music with just his/her mouthpiece, and a strong one without using the valves on the trumpet, except when the notes get very low, or even without using a trumpet at all (just buzzing your lips).
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2004
  9. Dec 13, 2004 #8

    Hurkyl

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    I'm pretty sure that a french horn is conical -- the radius of the tubing gradually increases as you circle around the instrument.
     
  10. Dec 13, 2004 #9
    Both are conical. They are because they bend upon themselves. A Flute and Clarinet do not.

    Playing in the middle range on a mouthpiece is easy as well. Infact a better player than me can play any note on open values.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  11. Dec 13, 2004 #10
    Now I think, I believe I have read that it is something to do with the length and where the holes are positioned.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  12. Dec 13, 2004 #11

    Hurkyl

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    Bending upon itself doesn't make it conical -- for some more obvious examples look at a trombone, contrabass clarinet, or bass flute. (What about (contra-)bassoon? I forget)
     
  13. Dec 13, 2004 #12
    The key is that a clarinet (or any reed instrument) can be considered to be closed at one end.
     
  14. Dec 13, 2004 #13
    that is a good point too.
    are you saying that is what determines the 12 note registier jump?
    what about an oboe? that is closed at one end - does it have a 8 note register jump?

    in friendship,
    prad
     
  15. Dec 14, 2004 #14
    I apologise. I wrote this and then went to bed and realised I had miss read what I was thinking of. However a trumpet is still conical.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
  16. Dec 14, 2004 #15
    An Oboe is 8 notes, mainly (like the flute) because of its octave key.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
     
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