Synthetic reeds must duplicate traditional response

By now, you’ve seen it all and experienced most. You have received he email or the telephone calls from the friendly introductory remarks and received the samples. You have been excited by the obvious qualities, the fact that it may be played without preparation and that it is longer lasting than any cane reed you have ever played. If your guide was careful, he may have told you that you may wish to change your mouthpiece in order that more reeds may be tried and perhaps used, with even better results. Then, of course, the reeds are graded to be comparable to your V12s or whichever cane reed you have played. You may have made a false useless move by changing your mouthpiece. The change of course, produces changed results,: a bit brighter, or darker, real improvement in the response, or so you think. The problem with changing any part of your equipment in order to get a better result from a synthetic is of course detrimental to your whole concept of what the traditional sound of the clarinet is,especially to you.It is very similar to changing your car when you were filling up the tank. Of course, that new car is a bit different, it is new, and you perceive it differently, and you have deviated from the traditional response that you have experienced for years. This is your tradition, that which you have been taught to bring to the clarinet, that which you will pass on to your students, that which keeps the sound of the Mozart clarinet in your head and heart. If you give up this legacy you carry from all of the clarinetists of the past , think twice, because if you can really hear, you will return to this tradition, you have to. Some of that tradition which you receive is passed on to you from Cahuzac, Klose, Muhlefeld, Stadler and many others. It is what your teacher has brought to you from his past.

While certain teachers had forecast all kinds of changing electronic methodology and technology for future instruments, this has not happened and we still carry forth the sounds that we have heard and been taught to reproduce. It is in your being and while it may change a bit, you still hear it well and will reproduce it.Ours is a sacred trust and we cannot forsake it for a piece of plastic, which can be a cameleon-like as any piece of cane.

Let us say that we have not changed our mouthpiece(s) for the sake of the reed, which is as I say, analagous to changing your car when you fill the tank with gasoline, or when you change the oil. All of that is salesmanship, pure and simple. No matter what you read or what you are told. The many changing cuts of reeds, the Illinois, cut, the Oregon cut, the Oklahoma cut, and the quebec and Ontario, traditional ond what have you, cuts are all done purely for salesmanship and the all-important volume. The synthetic takes the place of your cane in order to preserve all of the many sub-disciplines you have acquired, and to make them more dependable and responsive, and to duplicate totally your tradition concept of your clarinet sound, nothing more. Variety can be , indeed the spice of life, however it cannot serve any purpose at all, if you change your concept of sound
If one accepts the possibility that synthetic reeds are at least, possible, and practical, one has to go further. It is the conventional accepted wisdom. They do work, They do work well, although some are inconsistent. The inconsistency is the result of the manufacturer adding finishing steps which are anachronistic to the idea of synthetic.

For instance, a good synthetic is made mostly by machine. It does not need to be wet in order to play. It does so immediately. So, a good question,in fact my question is why add a superlative cutting mechanism for the tip of the reed? Superlative obviously means just that: it cuts superlatively, but, by the very nature, it cannot exactly suplicate the cut and therefore some reeds do not play as others do. I had a CEO of a company send me a couple of their finest synthetics. One played well, the other did not; not anywhere near the response of the first.
It was amusing, in that there is a claim of perfection, yet they played differently which of course, contradicts the whole idea of a synthetic.
Each reed must play very close to the next, if not an exact duplication. I do have some basic logic. If a reed is made completely by machine; if even the tip is synthetic and conforms to the specifications of the product, it is simply the end of the story. I feel this is true with the synthetic I play.
I now leave the reed on the mouthpiece at all times. I never even loosen the screws unless I accidentally scrape or hurt the tip in some way. It simply always plays the same.
So, keep practicing, and buy and try the reed which is made completely by machine. That’s why it is called synthetic. Think of synthetic oil. It is the best oil you can buy for your car, and there are now no exceptions.

Keep practicing. Most is in the mind, some is in the manufacture. Your sound, your tradition remains that which you have developed over the years of learning and performing

Stay well,
sherman

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