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  • 1. What to Expect from the Reed-In order to work properly, reed must be thin at the front end-must also be stiff and elastic, keeping identical vibration qualities-right and left sides of reed must only gradually change-reed will, of course, get wet, which is disaster for wood, so onemust be carefulClarinet and Saxophone mouthpieces generallylook the same, but are different sizes. There isn’t amouthpiece for the Oboe or Bassoon-the reed isthe mouthpiece
  • 2. How reeds are made -Made from a plant called Arundo Donax, more commonly known as reed cane -about 20 feet tall, which is similar to bamboo -Usually harvested after 2 years -Dried and aged for vary lengths of time before made into reeds -Cane is then split, cut to length, and carefully crafted into the final shape -Samples from each batch are tested by experienced players before being packaged
  • 3. The Reed Areas-Whole planed area of the reed is called the cut-The colors show areas of equal strength (similar to height lines on a map)-The tip (white) is the thinnest and most sensitive area, and is responsible for the highfrequency swinging and the attack behavior of the reed-The area edged in black is the raised crest (sometimes called the “heart”). In the raisedcrest, you don’t sand except if the whole reed’s surface must be redone-The sides or flanks next to the crest are important for the balance-The area below the crest is sometimes called the shoulder. Here the reed is strong andrarely swings-The unplaned area of the reed is called the blade
  • 4. Structure -made of reed grass that grows in the Mediterranean -grows to full size within a year -left for several months before harvested -stored in a dry place for 2 years-becomes as yellow and nearly as hard as bamboo -inside is made of long, hollow, elastic fibers –lay in parallel motion -glued together by lignin -gives reeds their elastic qualities and high strength -reed grass can withstand the strongest storms -bend, but not break -since natural product, no two are exactly alike, but some are nearly identical
  • 5. SignificanceAffect the player’s experience with instrumentReeds that are too hard-difficult to make pleasing sounds-FrustratingWarped or cracked reeds-usable, but will make inferior tonesA good reed can make all the difference
  • 6. What Role Reeds Play When Creating a Tone -typically places on the mouthpieces of clarinets and saxophones -keep only a narrow opening between the tip of the reed and mouthpiece -when closing lips around mouthpiece and reed, air blown into the instrument, vibrations create tone -technically, the reed and mouthpiece work together to create a opening/closing valve -air presses reed against the opening of mouthpiece so the stream of air is blocked -reed is elastic, so it bounces back. -this “swinging” of the reed creates the tones we hear
  • 7. Choosing Reeds-different brands-everything from beginner to blanks that experienced playerscan use to craft their own custom reeds-a highly popular and economical choice for beginners is Rico-Rico Royal reeds are of slightly better quality for a little higher price-as playing progresses, experimenting in other reed brands is recommended-notices in different tone qualities, ease in playing upper registers-Several different brands: Rico, Rico Royal, Reeds Australia, and Zonda reeds-don’t give up after the first time-break ‘em in-give time to adjust
  • 8. TypesGerman Reeds-thinner in the center -smaller and narrower than French or American Reeds -function best with German-made instruments -players find it difficult to play w/them -dark, rich sound when successfully playedFrench Reeds-produce bright, versatile sound -musicians also find difficult to use -thinner than German reeds, but thicker than American reeds -often used by more experienced musiciansAmerican Reeds-user friendly, universally preferred by students -try to combine the best of both German and French attributes -rich tone with plenty of flexibility
  • 9. Reed Classes (Hard/Soft)-depending on manufacturer, the names and classes will be different for reeds-1=softest, 5=hardest-”normal” mouthpiece, normal training, and “normal” jaws and teeth= using a 2 ½or 3 starting out.-work way up to 5 in ½ step increments-make sure you can play on that strength for at least an hour, due to performancesbeing about that long-classes are not defined strictly, same reed brands can have different individualreed classes-even in mass production, differences are surprisingly small-manufacturers try out every single reed on a tested reed
  • 10. Identification-Reed manufacturers produce reeds to fit different types of players and budgets-Synthetic reeds made of plastic-made for outdoors. Much more expensive-Last longer than natural cane reeds-Natural reeds made of canes are cheaper, but produce warmer sounds-Identification of reeds by numbers : 2-2 ½ softest, 5 hardest-The higher the number, the harder the reed will be
  • 11. Misconceptions-Misconceptions, especially among new players, is that new reeds arepreferred to old reeds-Professionals know that a reed needs to be broken in-Also, if a reed is green, or has not cured, it will not perform well-A full box of reeds should be rotated regularly, and each reed should beused for at least 10 minutes a day-This helps to break in reeds and keep players from getting frustrated
  • 12. Use and Care-Extend the life of the reed by wiping the moisture off after playing-storing them in a proper reed guard-prevent warping or other damage-don’t continue to play on your “favorite” reed-make sure you have 3 or 4 of your “favorite” reeds, that way if one cracks orbreaks, there’s backup-not only will the reed wear out overtime without rotation, but your embouchure canweaken as well
  • 13. Fiberreed, Carbon, and Similar Developments-Have been experiments with different materials-aimed at replacing the sensitive, naturally grown wooden reed-Reliable, long-lasting synthetic reed-show same perfect properties under all conditions-experiments with plexiglass and similar products generally fail-don’t meet minimal requirements-last 20 years, progress has been made with composite materials-hollow carbon fibers, glued together by resins-similar to wood in their structure-composite has a restricted life, but will last 10-20 times longer than natural wood reed-plastic coated reeds-market for natural reeds covered in a thin coat of plastic-protects from fluid-favorable most among sax players than other classical artists
  • 14. How to Treat Reeds-several different options, some very specific, others not so much-most experts agree that “breaking in” a reed should be mandatory-don’t play on new reeds for longer than 15 mins at a time, don’t use them fresh forperformances-Oboe players suggest soaking their double reeds in water before playing-double reeds are of little value before being soaked-better than soaking in mouth because enzymes in one’s mouth will break down theproteins in the cane, which then will weaken the reeds-Oboe players especially careful with their reeds, due to the expense double reeds areversus single reeds
  • 15. Storing and Transporting Reeds-Reeds should be treated as carefully as possible-When not playing, one should keep reeds in boxes to prevent environmental effects fromhappening-must be stored so the thin, still moist tip does not “crinkle” or develop waves-It hasn’t been fully proven, but climatised cases are a nice way to present reeds-especially to those who still use the little plastic cases-moist wood can’t dry in these, and eventually, reeds will begin to rot
  • 16. Trying Out New Reeds-make sure instrument is in perfect condition-otherwise, blame for possible hissing or squeaking can be blamed on the reed-when taking a reed out of the box, it’s been dry for a long time-moisten it-3-5 minutes in a glass of water-tip will be moist on the inside, too-bottom must be perfectly flat and tip must not show any curves-place reed on mouthpiece and try the tuning notes-should sound well, even in piano dynamic, without hissing or squeaking
  • 17. Flatten the Bottom-check to make sure the bottom is absolutely flat and smooth-often there is some dust, surface is sticky, or not absolutely flat-make the reed wet-only work with wet reeds-put the reed on the finest sand paper possible, put index, middle, and ring finer on topof blade and push it over surface away from tip.-never move a reed towards the tip, because fibers on the tip will break-not as easy as it sounds, because it’s hard to get ahold of the reed-cannot press harder on one side than the other
  • 18. Make the Reed Softer-Simplest way-if very small correction-Pull the reed face down over a fine sheet of sandpaper (with the crest looking down) in an acute angle with only very little pressure-keep reed absolutely horizontal-Stronger effect: Take the spatula or the horsetail and make the tip a little thinner. -Move the horsetail towards the tip, not the other way-Fibers can’t be ripped out of their structure-The areas on the sides are the most sensitive of the reed-Make sure to stay balanced between the sides-Check for balance by fixing the reed by trying reed out on mouthpiece-Listen for balanced responsiveness on both sides
  • 19. Make Only the Lower Register Softer-Work further away from the tip.-Reed is stronger, can sand away more at this part of the reed before it reacts
  • 20. One Side is too Soft -Press reed against one side of lower jaw so specific side doesn’t swing more than the other anymore -Compare both sides , try to balance them -Can always put the softer side onto the sandpaper, pulling it carefully away from the tip -Make the reed narrower, up to a half a millimeter is okay -Due to non-symmetry, must keep checking balance issues
  • 21. Make the Reed Harder-The reed plays easily, but it squeaks for no reason and is difficult to keep the toneconstant-Forte is clatter and when playing fortissimo, press the reed against the mouthpiece and itshuts and blocks-Reeds being too soft mean the reed just swings too much
  • 22. Squeaking-State the obvious, reeds squeak-tip is too thin, crest too strong-Limited ability to swing back and forth-Press reed at a 45 degree angle on a sheet of glass-Sufficient reed will quickly bend back fully-Reeds that are too old or thin will stay bent-time to throw away
  • 23. Tools to Work with Reeds-Sand paper, very fine (wet sand paper-it says on the back of package that it can be usedwet) -The fine sandpaper should be made wet before used on reeds -It is crucial that the surface you put the sandpaper on is absolutely plane-sheet of glass is good-wooden board doesn’t stay 100% plane if it becomes wet often-Spatula (from the pharmacy) with fine sandpaper glued to it-similar to a finger nailsander-Dutch rush or horsetail –dried stalks of very ancient, wild growing plant-can be found in boxes at music shops and pharmacies-can be collected and dried wildly-doesn’t hurt reed fibers-A reed cutter-found in music shops-strong light that will shine through reed-way to control work-glass of water to moisten sand paper
  • 24. How to Buy Reeds-traditional way=purchase from music store-single reed or full box of favorite brand-most will have VanDoren, Rico, and other national brands-good thing about buying single, salesman takes them out of the box-if the reed is of bad quality, can throw them out.-buy an entire box, get stuck with bad ones too-perfectly normal to find 3 in a box of 10 that are unusable-can order on the internet as well-reeds are standardized products
  • 25. Reed Instruments
  • 26. History of Early Reed Instruments-Greeks used double reeds-pair of aulos reeds were made from single internode of cane (6-9 inches)-cut in two, made into two reeds, ends formed the “mouth” of the “tongues” of eachreed; aka the opening of the blades-cane for the aulos was cut from the same plant as reeds are made from today-best cane-around Lake Copias, forty miles north of Athens-50 cane pipes found in Egyptian tombs-nearly all double-pipe, three or four holes-fragments of straw-like matter-thought to be the remains of reeds
  • 27. Oboe-Smallest and highest pitched double reed instrument-Cylindrical wooden body with keys along the length of its body-Has a range of about three octaves but is extremely difficult to play-Requires a lot of air, and proper breathing techniquesHistory of the Oboe -Was invented in the 17th century by Jean Hotteterre and Michel Philidor, two French musicians -Modified the louder shawm into a new instrument, the hautbois -Hautbois had a narrower body than the shawm and was split into three sections -By the 18th century, most orchestras has incorporated oboes into the ensemble -Several composers have written solo pieces for the oboe, including; George Frideric Handel, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 28. English Horn -Part of the Oboe Family -Also called Alto Oboe, tuned one-fifth lower -Similar shape to that of an Oboe -Often played by third Oboe player in an orchestraHistory of the English Horn -Prototypes appeared at the end of 17th Century -Were curved and leather covered with holes in the body -Holes were usually bored at an angle to accommodate the stretch of the fingers -Believed that the oboe da caccia (hunting oboe), used by Bach was almost identical to the English Horn -Distinctively dark and plaintive tone has been featured by composers such as Hector Berlioz, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, and Richard Wagner
  • 29. Bassoon-Is a double reed instrument made up of about eightfeet of cylindrical wood tubing-Four joints: the bass joints, tenor joint, doublejoint, and bell joint-The bell joint is slightly flared and is attached at thebottom to the bass joint ; set in turn to the tenor jointand double joint-Double reed mouthpiece is attached to crook in thetenor joint-Usually has about ten key controlled holes on thebody as well as eight finger holesHistory of the Bassoon-Was developed in 1650 from the curtal, a similar instrument which was made from asingle block of wood-German bassoon was perfected by Wilhelm Heckel, a German Manufacturer-Each type of bassoon was played in different parts of Europe
  • 30. Clarinet-Usually consists of a long tube with a mouthpiece at one en and a bell-shaped opening at the other end-Usually made of wood, has tone holes that are covered by small metallevers-Musician blows on a flat cane reed attached to a mouth piece-As the reed vibrates, creates a full, rich tone-By pushing the keys to close and open the tone holes, the pitches can bechanged-Manufactured in 4 keys, most common B-flat, and has a range of about 3½ octavesHistory of the Clarinet -Was invented in the early 18th century by Johann Cristoph Denner-a German Flute Maker-as a modification of a folk reedpipe, the chalumeau -By the 1840’s, two complex systems of keywork had been developed for the instruments -Became common in orchestras by about 1780 -Overatures/Concertos have been written for Clarinet/Horn combos
  • 31. Saxophone -Four types: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass -It combines a single reed and mouthpiece of a clarinet, a metal body, and a winded version of the bore of an Oboe -Most are curved and resemble a bass clarinet, soprano looks similar to a clarinet -Body contains 20 openings covered by keys -Keys can be opened/closed in groups by depressing and releasing 6 studs, or finger plates -Two additional holes are located on the body to produce notes an octave above or below -Most common have a range of about 2 ½ octavesHistory of the Saxophone -Was invented in 1840 by Belgian instrument maker, Aldoph Sax -In 1844, saxophones first appeared in symphonic orchestras -Pieces were occasionally written to include saxophones -Wasn’t until the 20th Century in America when saxophones became popular -Association with development of Jazz