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Archive for February, 2008

Plateau Clarinets

Posted by bitguru on February 29, 2008

I don’t play much B♭ soprano clarinet, but when I do I use a plateau (closed-hole) model. Plateau B♭clarinets are oddballs, but not exactly rare. Several turn up on eBay each year. That’s where I bought the Noblet plateau B♭ clarinet I play.

Plateau clarinets in A, however, are rare. Until recently I had never heard of one. That has changed, though, because I just picked up a matched set of B♭and A plateau full-Boehm Selmer Paris clarinets made in 1937. They are in pretty rough shape and I probably overpaid for them, but now I’m one step closer to world domination my goal having a nice set of “soprano bass clarinets” to play.

plateau clarinets

The horn on the left is my Noblet B♭plateau clarinet. In the middle is the Selmer Bb plateau clarinet. It’s as long as a standard A clarinet because of the extended range to low Eb (notice the fifth RH pinky key). On the right is the Selmer A plateau clarinet, which also goes down to low E♭ and is even longer.

Interestingly, the LH thumb hole is not plateau on the Selmers. (It is on the Noblet.) This is the reverse of a Mazzeo System clarinet, in which the thumb key is plateau but the other holes are open.

The first thing I have to do is find a case for these guys. (The case in which they came is falling apart and is beyond repair.) A standard Bb/A clarinet case won’t do because these horns are too long. If anyone out there has suggestions, please leave a comment.

After that I’m going to see about getting them overhauled. Just about every pad and spring needs to be replaced, and several keys need to be bent back into position. A large crack on one of the bells needs to be repaired (or probably I’ll just obtain a replacement bell) and what would seem to be an old repair of a substantial crack on the top joint of the B♭ should be scrutinized. After that, we’ll see if these things can even play in tune.

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Noisier hybrid vehicles?

Posted by bitguru on February 20, 2008

Pedestrians have occasionally complained about near-noiseless hybrid cars sneaking up on them for many years now. However, the National Federation of the Blind is taking it to a new level, and is having some success in pushing for state laws that would require noisier hybrid vehicles.

Let me be perfectly clear. Our society does not need noisier vehicles. If hybrids, or fuel cells, or some other whiz-bang technology results in our our collective fleet becoming whisper quiet, that would be a good thing. All the noise pollution our vehicles currently create is not by design, but is an unintentional artifact of standardizing on the internal combustion engine a century ago.

I’m not unsympathetic to the NFB’s safety concerns, but there has got to be a better way than the wholesale cacophonication of our roadways. Having vehicles emit an RF warning signal instead of an acoustic one, as the linked article cites, sounds reasonable. We should be exploring solutions along those lines.

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