Monday, March 30, 2009


The basic material for constructing a reasonable air column is already secured. Now it is necessary to bring this air column to produce pressure oscillations at a definite frequency.

In clarinets this is achieved by a mouthpiece and a flexible reed. Mouthpiece and reed operate by controlling the flow into the air column as a non-linear oscillator. The flexibility of the reed allows variation of the effective inlet flow area to the instrument. Therefore, the two key parameters are pressure in the mouth's cavity and air flow. Under certain conditions these parameters enter in resonance transforming the steady supply pressure in the musician's mouth into oscillating pressure waves expanding through the air column.

The study of single reed woodwinds' mouthpieces and the effects of different geometries of the chamber, windways, baffles, facing, etc.,etc. is a complex field on its own. Since such a study is out of the scope of the project, I just bought over internet the cheapest BBb contrabass clarinet mouthpiece I could find. Studies on mouthpieces could be the subject of an advanced study in the future, but for now I do not need to reinvent the wheel. As for reeds, I happen to be very fond of Vandoren. Here is a comparison between three mouthpieces from left to right: Bb soprano Vandoren B45, Bb bass Vandoren B45 and BBb contrabass "Precision".

And below there is a comparison of reeds. All Vandoren, no exceptions.

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