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Topics - philpedler

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1
Hi everyone!

Dave Watson is off on an adventure in the service of the USA government. So he is not servicing clarinets at this time. Also the information in the page here at the forum, Recommended Clarinet Tech Services, is probably out of date. I have one person who has asked for recommendations about tech services. (And I also no longer service clarinets.)

SO who do you all recommend? Are there any of you who would be willing to start doing this for 'fun and profit'?

2
Review of the Roland Aerophone Pro AE-30
comparing it to the Yamaha YDS-150

In my last review of the Yamaha Digital Saxophone, I mentioned that I would be getting a Roland Aerophone Pro. So here now is my review of the Aerophone.

The Aerophone Pro comes with 305 easily selectable ‘Scenes’, which is Roland-speak for what we might call ‘instrument voices’. Over half of these sounds are in the Zen-Core set, which are the selection of synthesized voices, and the smaller half is in a group called SuperNatural, which (I am assuming) are supposed to be based on real instrument sounds. I must admit that I haven’t delved far enough into the various Roland keyboard synthesizer videos to learn more about the two sets. See more about the sounds below.

Keys:
The keys of both instruments are very clicky, with a feel like depressing one to nine keys of a computer keyboard all at the same time. That is such a different experience than playing a real clarinet or even a saxophone. Although I didn’t get to play both instruments side by side, I would give the Key Action award to the YDS. The YDS has a very sax-like set of keys. The Aerophone is just plain weird, but has the keys positioned like a sax. One huge advantage for the Aerophone (and something hard to get used to) is that it has four octave keys, two below and two above the center thumb button. These can be set to play 7 octaves, with holding down two at once. I preferred to use the 5-octave setting, so I didn’t have to be particular as to whether two keys were being held down at the same time, or just one of the two. As a clarinet player who also plays sax, I found that the octave key situation caused a lot of mental gymnastics. I decided not to confuse myself with using the right sax-like pinkie keys very much, or the left hand side keys. This means I needed to train myself to switch octave keys when passing C or C# going in either direction. Once I got used to that, I found it to be a wonderfully logical system. The Aerophone can also be set to use EWI recorder-like fingerings (with the un-recorder-like addition of the octave keys).

Settings:
There are TONS of settings for the Aerophone for all sorts of things. Like do you want the tone to growl when you depress the thumb pad? Or do you want it to turn on the vibrato? Do you want a different effect if you raise the Aerophone? Or what about if you tilt it left or right? You will want to set how the pitch bender works (also operated with your right thumb). There are settings also for controlling Midi settings. And most importantly, how changes of lip pressure affect the pitch and vibrato. The settings are totally bewildering, and the user manual is next to useless.

Of course there are many demo Youtube videos for the Aerophone. If you are serious about getting an Aerophone, before ordering be sure to listen to those by Alistair Parnell. If you actually get an AE-30, you really must watch his video on making the initial settings and updating the firmware.

Lip pressure affecting pitch and vibrato:
I was looking forward to being able to make my own vibrato on the Aerophone. I found that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. (The Yamaha Digital Sax had the option of automatic vibrato on or off.) On the Aerophone, one thing I wanted above all was good intonation. But if you are going to have good vibrato, one needs to be able to change the lip pressure at least +/- 20 cents. That means that if I get sloppy with maintaining my lip/jaw pressure, I could find myself playing 20 cents flat! I was surprised that this 71 year-old clarinet player wasn’t as good at maintaining a steady lip pressure as I thought I would be. I probably could have made better settings for changes of lip pressure. On my clarinet, I do play with vibrato, but my jaw movements are very slight and my vibrato is not wide. With the Aerophone, I found that I needed to make jaw movements more like I might on an alto sax. This is just something one will need to play around with changing several different settings to find the best one for you.

Sound quality of the ‘Scenes’:
If you are interested in hearing how realistic the saxophone sounds are between the three brands (Yamaha YDS-150 vs. Roland Aerophone AE-10 vs. Akai EWI Solo), I suggest watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf4910pIG34
The video is in German with English subtitles. This is one of the clearest sound comparisons I have heard, because the player in the video made sample saxophone quartet recordings for each of the different instrument brands. All four similar-setting parts were played by the YDS, then played by the AE-10, and then by the EWI Solo. In this case, the fact that guy was playing the earlier model Roland AE-10 versus the AE-30 probably makes no difference. I wish we had a similar video with comparisons of all the clarinet sounds.

Clarinet: I am so disappointed that Roland didn’t do a better job of capturing really natural sounds of real instruments in the SuperNatural set. They probably took a sample of a Japanese player’s tone. How many notes did the player record for the clarinet sound? Maybe just one and not more than four! Then the rest were mathematically extrapolated by increasing the beats per second. The ‘Classic Clarinet scene’ doesn’t display any difference of sound in the throat tone area, as it would if they had captured some sounds in that range. The low chalumeau sounds are totally ugly. Any reedy boldness of a real clarinet in that range is absent, and the tone gets kind of buzzy. The SuperNatural Classic Clarinet sound would be about right for playing the clarinet part for the Antiques Road Show theme music. It won’t do for the Mozart clarinet concerto. It is certainly better than some of the so-called SuperNatural sounds for other instruments.

Other instruments:
harmonica: This scene is pretty good. The harmonica voice I picked was from the Zen-Core set, which sounded a bit fuller than the SuperNatural harmonica. But both were pretty good.
flute: Very disappointing in several different options for this instrument. I chose the Zen-Core synthetic alto recorder sound to use for flute. Problem is, it kind of has overtones of clarinet and harmonica.
tenor recorder: This had kind of a reedy sound. I have used this sound for a flute substitute also. Evidently the SuperNatural set cannot be pushed much beyond the normal range of the instrument intended.
oboe and English horn: The oboe was too thin sounding. Very ugly. By combining with other sounds (as one can do on the Aerophone), I was able to combine the English horn scene with a different synthesized sound to get a rather nice oboe/English horn sound. The sound gradually morphed to be more like a harmonica in the upper register.
bassoon: I was able to use this voice. It got kind of metallic sounding in the highest octave. Again, it is better to add something to the bassoon to get a better tone.
French horn: This scene is also rather good. I preferred to combine it with another sound, or just choose a somewhat similar synthetic sound.
trumpet: Yuck.
violin: Double yuck. It is really strange how a violin sound can begin to sound like a thin soprano sax or harmonica when a sax/clarinet player is trying to imitate a violin.
percussion: If you need to play timpani on your wind instrument, I thought that the sounds in the percussion section were pretty good. You’ll definitely get people’s attention with them!

Synthetic Zen-Core scenes:
Many of these are outstanding! There are a lot of these that are totally weird. I was mainly interested in finding sounds I could use in worship services, so I rejected all the ones that reminded me of bad sci fi television shows from the 1970s. The Zen-Core scenes start with Hard Lead and Soft Lead scenes, then there are Zen-Core scenes that mimic all sorts of instruments, even various Asian ethnic instruments I have never learned about.

My favorite Zen-Core scenes:
The thing I liked about the Hard and Soft Lead section of synthesized sounds was that they were full-bodied sounds that kept their boldness even over 5 octaves.

Somewhere from long-ago information about early synthesizers I vaguely remember hearing about the Saw Wave and the Square Wave. A lot of synthesized sounds seem to be combinations of those two basic waves. I mention these two because it seemed to me that scenes including the Saw Wave might give a sort of brass-instrument sound. And the Square Wave must have odd partials, because it sounds quite like a clarinet. And I don’t mean a thin ugly clarinet. My favorite scene of them all was combining the Square Wave with the Classic Clarinet sound. That is truly beautiful! I wished that I could play my real clarinet with that consistent sound over 5 octaves. And imagine being able to play extremely high notes at a triple pianissimo! Of course, at either extreme end of the five-octave range, the scene no longer sounds like a clarinet.


Conclusions:
I have played the Aerophone Pro in our worship team for four Sundays now. Since this is such a different animal than anything I have ever played, it was a significant outlay of my time to learn to play it. My family— who are my best critics— were unstinting in their criticism.
Too much reverb: This had not bothered me until my son complained about it. If you are going for authentic instrument sounds, there is way too much reverb in the settings for many scenes for this instrument. I think the over-reverb became obvious when joining a group where the other instruments do not have much reverb going. There is an effect called Tap Pan Delay enabled on my Aerophone scenes which causes an echo 3-4 times after playing an ending note. I quickly learned how to disable that one.
My wife characterized my tone as often being buzzy and harsh. She said, “Why would you ever want to play an instrument that sounds like an early electric piano?” My son said everything I played sounded like a harmonica. Another person from my small group said that it kind of sounded like an electric guitar. All these comments were true, depending on which sound I was playing.
My wife only gave me one plus for the aerophone, “Well at least now you are always in tune.”
This last Sunday, a young woman who played saxophone in school asked what that ‘thing’ was that I was playing. When I asked her to say more, she said, “It looks like a cross between a saxophone and a vacuum cleaner. Kind of sounds like a synthesizer.”
For some reason, the Aerophone sounded lovely when playing along with professional artist recordings of the upcoming Sunday’s arrangements, but when playing the same sounds with the team using our worship center’s excellent sound system, the low partials of my tone seemed to get soaked up by the other instruments, leaving the high buzz of the upper partials. This made the different scenes I was playing for each song sound more alike than different. OK, like a harmonica.

So it turns out that I am a very poor person to play or review this instrument. If you listen to Alistair Parnell play, you will be able to hear that the Aerophone is a fantastic instrument for synthesized jazz. The other thing is that the Aerophone is terrific as a Midi controller. In that way, you can have access to richer real-instrument sounds and many other options that I have not explored. Others have, and you can hear some fantastic playing on YouTube videos.

Addendum:
For the rest of this review, I am sharing sound combinations that some of you might like to try if you get an Aerophone Pro.
And it is much easier for me to make a table at the clarinetpages.net site. So please click the link to see that part of this review:
https://sites.google.com/clarinetpages.net/clarinetpages/others/digitalsynthesizer-instruments/roland-aerophone-pro-ae-30


Combining the SuperNatural sounds with others can be tricky, whether that be another SuperNatural scene or one of the synthesized ones. The reason is that combined sounds may not all react the same way to differing breath pressures and lip pressure. The result will often be slight intonation problems between them. Or if the mixed scenes are in tune, they often sound like multiple instruments playing together. (This can be fine, but it was not what I was shooting for.)



3
Thanks to Ken Ewald, I was able to review a Jean Aubert clarinet. In Penzel-Mueller's later years, they made several partnerships, and I think one of them was with Malerne in France.

See the review and pictures here: https://sites.google.com/clarinetpages.net/clarinetpages/composite/vintage-plastic-composite-clarinets/penzel-mueller-dyna-tone/aubert-jean-late-penzel-mueller?authuser=0

Ken is doing a great job with his retirement hobby! Take a look at his Etsy page here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KennyWhosKlarinettes
See his video to view what a real clarinet workshop looks like!

4
    For those that don't know me, I am the absentee landlord of ClarinetPages. Greetings to you all!

    Some of you old-timers here may remember that I play many Sunday's in the worship team at my church. When I go to Indonesia, I have instruments there that I play in churches also. This is really fun for me. At 71, I am always the oldest member of the music team, so I count it a great privilege to play along. I play clarinet, Irish folk flute, soprano sax, penny whistles and recorders.

    I have always valued playing real acoustical instruments. But these days, I may be the only one playing a non-electric instrument. So, I get 'miked', (or, er, 'microphoned'). Somehow it never seemed to bother me that my beautiful acoustic tone was now plasticized by amplification. Meanwhile, the sound booth people have always had headaches with me, because it's hard to mix my sound with the rest of the team. If I play the soprano saxophone or even the alto recorder in the high range, it can easily over-power other instruments and the singers. On the other hand, if I listen to the results in a recording, I am disappointed that no one would have heard lovely musical lines that I played in the lower register of any of the instruments listed above.

    So, recently, I suggested to our worship leader that I could solve that persistent problem with an electric instrument, the Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxophone. Evidently he liked the idea of solving "the problem with Phil's playing," because he found funds to buy it for me! I have played it for three Sundays now, so it's time for me review it here. Even though this is not a sax forum, I know some of you will be interested.

    If you really are interested, you will want to check out reviews by Jim at Sax.co.uk on YouTube. He has two reviews that were very helpful to me.

    Here are the things that appeal to me in the YDS-150:
    • It is shaped like a soprano saxophone, with a low A key on the lower part of the button for the left thumb. Play any of the 70-some sounds with sax fingerings. Wonderful!
    • It allows you to set fingerings for the altissimo range of the saxophone. This is the first time I have learned how to play a high F# and G on a soprano sax.
    • You can set any of the four saxophone sounds to play in the key of C. This works best for the soprano and tenor sax sounds, because Bb is, of course, a close neighbor of C. I have prided myself at being able to transpose and play C parts on my Bb, A, and G clarinets, but I can definitely see that I do better when I don't have to transpose. It eliminates one stress factor for me. Using C fingerings for the alto and bari sax sounds sounds strange in some registers, because the sound makers didn't envision people trying stretch them that far.
    • You can modify and save 20 favorite sounds using the phone app for this instrument. The app is also useful for changing between your favorites.
    • Use a head set with the YDS and enjoy practicing a saxophone while never making a sound that will be heard by neighbors.
    • Saving the best for last: I didn't realize how my playing style on 'real' acoustical instruments was restricted because of avoiding certain inherent problems on those instruments! For instance, I avoid playing the lowest and the extreme highest notes on my soprano sax. I simply can't play those notes in those registers at a pianissimo level (and admittedly have not spent the time needed to master those notes). I only get to use the extremes of my instrument in the contexts where it makes sense to play at a medium or loud volume. Now with the YDS, it has been delightful to end some songs with an impossibly pianissimo high or low note! And guess what! The note is perfectly in tune.

    About the Yamaha YDS-150 app:
    It shows that it is a first version. I would hope that Yamaha will update it soon. The feature for naming the favorite sounds/voices did not work for me on the Android app. And it sure would be nice if they could add some more controls and settings for voices.

    Voices/Sounds:
    The weakness of this saxophone is that Yamaha did not seriously attempt to make the instrument sound like any of the 4 acoustic saxophones, specifically in the subtle changes when one hears in different registers. The sound definitely seems artificial to me. That criticism must be balanced by the fact that the playing experience is so different from playing a real sax. When I play my soprano sax, I hear not just the sound, but overtones sent through my bone structure. I miss that sensation! There are 13 soprano sax sounds in the YDS. These start with Jazzy, Straight, Bright Pop, Classic, Rich Classic, and Smooth, plus things like Distortion Effect and Phaser Effect. One thing I dislike it that MOST YDS sounds contain automatic vibrato. The sound intensity is solely controlled by wind pressure. There is no lip pressure sensor as in many wind synthesizers. Note in the list of soprano voices above that the second one is 'Straight', which in this case means 'no vibrato'. (Well actually, I detect a tiny rather rapid vibrato. But the sound is straight enough.)

    In addition there are just a few other interesting sounds. The best two, in my opinion are the harmonica and pan pipes sound. How I wish there were more! Why didn't they include a flute and a bassoon?! (Given what they did with saxophone, it is better that they didn't try to add the clarinet.)

    Don't judge any sound on the YDS by the tiny built-in speaker. Plug in headphones or get an amplifier. Plugging into a bluetooth speaker with a cable, works well.

    From the 70-some YDS voice/sound choices, I came up with around 9 that I thought I could use, and four favorites. Settings from the app for my favorites are attached to this post. Two more pictures will be in a reply post below.
    • 1 Straight, electric-sounding, oboe d'amore'
    • 2 sweet oboe d'amore
    • 3 straight soprano sax
    • 3 straight soprano sax
    • 4 soprano sax with vibrato
    • 9 tenor sax ballad (straight) LPF (dark)
    • 10 tenor sax HPF (bright)

    Of course the YDS does not have a sound named 'oboe d'amore'. But that is the name I gave to a modified sound. In the lower register, it reminds me of an English Horn. Both the oboe-like sounds and the soprano sax sound have the delightful quality of being able to cut through the mix of other instruments, just like oboes normally do. It has been such a pleasure to softly play alto range harmony parts with worshipful songs, yet to have the notes so subtly make their presence heard in the mix.

    I hate to admit one more advantage of the YDS. I expected criticism from my wife (formerly and oboe player) about the artificial sound. Instead she said, "I liked that you were perfectly in tune." (Ouch!) Well if one plays lots of instruments, and is getting old and not practicing enough, guess what happens!

    Here's something I learned: Playing the YDS with other electronic instruments, of course one will play with headphones on. I found that the trick was to set the mix for my channel so that my sound was somewhat soft in my headset, so as to encourage me to play a bit louder than I normally would on low notes. When playing in the higher range, I had to be conscious to not play as loud as I want to.

    I love the advantages of playing the YDS, so I'm going to miss it! I am sending it back. On Tuesday I will be receiving a Rolland AE-30 Aerophone Pro.

    Expect another review. The Aerophone Pro has literally thousands of sounds, and hundreds that emulate real acoustical instruments.

5
All about Clarinets / Please help me check the clarinetpages.xxx site
« on: February 08, 2021, 05:53:33 PM »
There have been problems in forwarding the three domain names I set up for clarinetpages. Please, if you have a little time, try these two addresses to make sure they work for you:
clarinetpages.net
clarinetpages.com

You should be able to put www. in front of those, if you want. But just the naked address should work.

If one or both of the addresses don't work, please Reply to this thread tell me which browser you are using and what error you got. It would be great if you can attach a screenshot of the error message.

If the addresses work, please respond. If I get 5 responses that are saying they work, I will consider the problem solved.

Thanks so much!
Phil

6
All about Clarinets / Klezmer anyone?!
« on: August 02, 2020, 05:09:00 PM »
Recently Allen L contacted me about a clarinet question at the clarinetpages.net, and he mentioned that he plays Klezmer. I don't often come in contact with Klezmer players, so I asked him these questions:
  • How would one go about learning to play in the Klezmer style?
  • Do you play a C clarinet for that?
  • Do you prefer an Albert system clarinet for that?
  • What are the standard pieces that all Klezmer players should know?
  • Please include Youtubes of you and your group.
Allen did a fantastic job answering me. And maybe if you respond to this he might even add more.

First off, I'd like to provide some clarification regarding what exactly
"klezmer music" encompasses - but it's regrettably not straightforward.
Klezmer originally arose in medieval eastern European Jewish communities
to perform at "simkhas" (holidays and celebratory events, especially
weddings). When brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants in the
20th century, it was further influenced by early theater music and early
jazz. To some performers, this is the repertoire that is considered to
be "klezmer music" proper. However, klezmorim (the plural of klezmer;
the term "klezmer" originally referred to a musician - but the genre
didn't have a common name until its revival in the 1970's, when "klezmer
music", or music made by klezmorim, was shortened) have always borrowed
from the cultures around them - for example, incorporating the folk
tunes of Roma, Ukranians, Romanians, and others into their repertoire
early on - and beginning in the mid-20th century, the repertoire has
been augmented by Yiddish melodies, Israeli folk music, tunes from early
20th-century American Yiddish theater productions, and modern
compositions in the traditional style. Some performers would also
consider these latter borrowings to constitute "klezmer music", while
others make a distinction between these and the older, more
"traditional" repertoire.

As far as how to learn: As with all ethnic music, ornamentation and feel
are of utmost importance, and cannot be learned from sheet music alone.
It is critical to listen to a lot of music (especially older recordings,
but also contemporary artists who carry on the tradition faithfully).
Tons of vintage klezmer recordings are available on the YouTube channel
Classic Klezmer (www.youtube.com/user/classicklezmer). In addition,
Robin Seletsky has a very helpful YouTube page dedicated to klezmer
clarinet tutorials
(www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcngoxzwXCGmyrutyvP6a7aKbkCSouytA).

This is not to say that sheet music doesn't have its place. There are a
number of fine collections to serve as an aid to learning the basic
melodies. I recommend the Mel Bay "Klezmer Collection" book (available
in C and Bb) as a great starter - it has a lot of tunes commonly played
by klezmer bands, as well as good notes on the source recordings from
which the transcriptions were made. One must be aware, however, that
these melodies are only a starting point. A significant portion of the
older klezmer repertoire consists of dance tunes, and like most ethnic
dance traditions, improvisation is essential so as not to bore the
dancers (nor musicians) to tears as the tune is played repeatedly. There
are traditional styles of improvisation (as opposed to "anything goes"),
and again I have to stress the importance of listening to the experts
perform in order to learn the established traditions. Bear in mind,
however, that established performers have stretched the bounds of the
genre quite far, including fusion efforts that stray far from the tradition.

Regarding the instruments: Thanks to a number of historic trends
(predominantly in the early to mid 20th century), the clarinet is now
often considered to be "the prince of klezmer". Historically, both C and
Bb clarinets have been played by klezmorim. I utilize both instruments
in my playing, not for specific historic or authenticity reasons, but
rather because of the ease that a C clarinet lends to playing in certain
keys, and reading concert scores without having to transpose on the fly.
I play Boehm instruments because I don't have the bandwidth to learn yet
another instrument (I also perform frequently on guitar and Irish
whistles - or at least i did, until the pandemic hit). My music page,
which includes a few choice videos (with links to more on YouTube), is
www.lutins.org/music.

And as far as "standard pieces that all klezmer players should know":
Hmmm. I'm reluctant to name any particular pieces, because some of them
seem to be played to death these days. I think it's best to start
listening, and decide which pieces strike your fancy. I maintain a
comprehensive guide at www.klezmerguide.com that may prove helpful for
finding online recordings and sheet music sources for a tune that you
come across.

7
Dave and I thought that this was an interesting clarinet when Janie contacted us. So if any of you are interested, here's the link:

http://ebay.us/9FUOZq?cmpnId=5338273189

8
Can anyone help Eloise with this question? She is in the UK. That would probably affect the answer to the value question.

Hi Phil, I have a Boosey & Hawkes Regent clarinet, serial number 477723, made in England. I'd like to know the value of this and the age if you can! Thanks a lot!
Eloise

Thanks!

9
All about Clarinets / Mystery clarinet logo. Who can identify it?
« on: March 01, 2020, 03:04:17 PM »
Let's help Frank in Denmark. What maker used this Lyre-like logo with a capital A middle part without its crossbar?

This is a hard rubber clarinet. I kind of think it would be Czechoslovakian. Boosey & Hawkes didn't have a logo like that, I think. Note that the only logo stamp is on the side of the right hand joint, at the bottom.

Thanks for your help!
Phil

10
All about Clarinets / MOVED: Penzel Mueller Serial Time line
« on: August 31, 2019, 09:13:15 AM »
This topic has been moved to the Make and Model board.

http://clarinetpages.info/smf/index.php?topic=867.0

13
All about Clarinets / Please identify this mysterious tenon ring
« on: July 25, 2019, 01:47:00 PM »
I know that I have fixed plural clarinets with tenon rings like this. Please tell me and Paul what clarinet this pictured tenon ring is from.
This was spliced onto a Bruno clarinet.
Thanks!

14
Greetings All,

I hope that you will still be able to access THIS forum and the ClarinetPages.net site.

I was shocked to find today that an Internet search took me to the OLD ClarinetPages.net site, not the new one.
I have added a redirect to the NEW site, so that more traffic will go there.
BUT Unfortunately, I am further saddened by how poorly the new site is working. It is so hard to navigate the new menu, and many pages in the new site have missing pictures or broken links.
If any of you have time to help me, it would be very much appreciated.

Dave and others, I changed a redirect that I didn't understand that seemingly went from clarinetpages.net to this forum.
SO some people may have trouble accessing this site.
Sorry!

If the site is broken, I will try to fix it.

15
Buford has asked me about the value of this interesting metal clarinet. The construction is single walled, but the bore diameter is a whopping .585 inch. The outer diameter at the top below the tenon is about .62 inch. Note that the bell also is removable.

Because of these characteristics, I think that there would be interest in this clarinet at auction. Can anyone on the forum give an idea of what this clarinet would sell for at auction?

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