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#26 2011-01-08 01:19:52

Toby
Shakuhachi Scientist
From: out somewhere circling the sun
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 405

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

I don't think that there is any question that the flutes will respond differently, even if the dimensions are very close. Polishing the bore won't help because that doesn't get rid of micropores, and they vary between woods. You would have to seal the bore. Even so, identically machine-made commercial instruments show some small variances due to inevitable tolerances in manufacture. In handmade instruments the tolerances are sure to be even larger.

Finally, although I find the offer very generous, without controlled double-blind testing it will tell us nothing conclusive, no matter how many people take part. One flaw in the methodology (in this case the fact that the testers still have visual and tactile clues as to the identity of the flutes) renders the whole test useless.

There was an interesting study done with trombone bells some years ago. In wide-flared, thin bells, both material and thickness can lead to appreciable spectral differences in the final sound. Ten top pro trombonists were given bells to test on an instrument, and then asked to identify the different bells in the dark. They could do so. It was then realized that the bells of different thicknesses gave clues through the weight and balance differences, and it was possible that the musicians were responding to that, rather than a difference in sound. When the bells were counterweighted, not a single trombonist could tell them apart.

What is most interesting about this is the fact that there WERE considerable differences in the radiated sound at the position of the player's ear depending on the bell used: up to 2 dB at certain frequencies, which should have been noticeable, and yet none of the players (top professionals, remember) heard or felt any difference.

___________________________________

Don't look at my finger, look at where I am pointing...

Last edited by Toby (2011-01-08 01:20:58)

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#27 2011-01-08 02:26:57

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

I have a couple of Japanese girls at the teahouse who are getting fascinated with shakuhachi. One of them is a trombonist and the other's grandfather played shakuhachi. So they asked me to loan them some PVC shakuhachi. Of course they have great difficulty playing because they are just starting out. So they implied that if they had bamboo it might be easier. Yesterday I stood outside of sight and played, then asked them, "How do you like the sound of my new shakuhachi?"

"Beautiful!"

"Sounds really great!!!!!"

So I showed them I was blowing on PVC.

One said, "I guess our problem is not the plastic flutes."

However some of the regular customers commented very favorably upon Colyn's grenadilla 1.8 and said they thought the tone was different than bamboo. Could be psychosomatic as Toby asserts. Don't know.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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#28 2011-01-08 09:50:40

Colyn Petersen
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From: Omaha, NE
Registered: 2009-11-20
Posts: 46
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

I do seal the bores, however you are still no doubt right about the variances. There would also need to be at least two capable players, as the dramatic weight difference would clue the player in to which was being held.


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#29 2011-01-08 11:46:48

radi0gnome
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From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

I just googled "thickness of newspaper" and found that the average thickness is 2 to 4 thousandths of an inch. I remember Mujitsu saying that he liked to use small pieces of newspaper to spot tune his instruments. Since I think he said he folded the paper in two, he's using thicknesses of 4 to 8 thousandths to spot tune. Because of this, I'm thinking the tolerances of a few thousandths of an inch is way too loose to call two flutes machined within those tolerances identical.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#30 2011-01-08 12:59:27

Moran from Planet X
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Tairaku 太楽 wrote:

I have a couple of Japanese girls at the teahouse who are getting fascinated with shakuhachi. One of them is a trombonist ...

II'll take that one.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#31 2011-01-22 19:53:51

Alan Adler
Member
From: Los Altos, California
Registered: 2009-02-15
Posts: 78

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Happy New Year Everybody,

From my prior posts, you know that I side with Benade, and of course our esteemed Toby.  But I'd like to suggest a shift in how we view this question. 

It appears that even those who think material makes a difference believe it to be a small difference.  So if that difference were real, it would pale compared to any of the following:

Geometry of bore, utaguchi, the area near the utaguchi, and the tone holes

Sharpness of the utaguchi edge (sharper is brighter)

Embouchure (every time I play there are small, yet clearly audible differences attributable to my embouchure)

Strength of breath

Profile of attack

The room we play in and our position in the room,

Etc.

And of course, even if you maintain that there is an audible difference attributable to material "A" vs material "B", which do you prefer today?  Will that preference be the same next week?  Will your listeners share that preference today and next week?  If your answer to all of these questions is yes, then I ask one more:

Play all of your flutes comparatively and choose the one you like best today.  Now would you be comfortable selling all the others?

I made and enjoy playing flutes with timbres ranging from reedy to brassy to muted mellow.  Vive le difference!

Best regards,

Alan

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#32 2011-01-23 01:44:38

Jeff Cairns
teacher, performer,promoter of shakuhachi
From: Kumamoto, Japan
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 517
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Good question Alan, however I think that most people who have and do play a variety of styles of music with shakuhachi, tend to rate 'best'  regarding sound and playability in context to the music that they tend to play and not just as a relative and comparative judgment between instruments outside of style and form.  In other words, what works well with one type of music may not work the same with another given that the other variables you mentioned are constant (which of course they aren't.)  This certainly supports your idea, however and also supports the idea of having a particular favorite instrument for a particular type of music.  With that reasoning, if you play only one style/type/form/flavor of music, you would only need one instrument and go ahead and convert the rest to cash.......unless you are a collector then everything changes.


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#33 2011-01-23 05:12:32

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

I believe the point that Alan is trying to make here is that, even IF material has some effect on sound, that effect is infinitesimal compared
to all the other variables that contribute to the sound.


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#34 2011-01-23 09:53:27

radi0gnome
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From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Welcome back, Alan!

Alan Adler wrote:

It appears that even those who think material makes a difference believe it to be a small difference.  So if that difference were real, it would pale compared to any of the following:

Geometry of bore, utaguchi, the area near the utaguchi, and the tone holes

Sharpness of the utaguchi edge (sharper is brighter)

True to an extent, but we have a member here able to get the differences down to a few thousandths of an inch. I expressed some skepticism that it's not tight enough of a tolerance because I've heard of makers spot tuning their instruments with small pieces of newspaper. Earlier I suggested that the thickness of the doubled up newspaper those makers use would be 4 to 8 thousandths, however I believe that's supposed to be moistened newspaper and could be even thicker. So the jury is still out on whether or a few thousandths is close enough tolerance to call two flutes identical (with the exception of materials). It might be possible to get that "few thousandths of an inch" tightened some by extra care in the making too.     

Alan Adler wrote:

Embouchure (every time I play there are small, yet clearly audible differences attributable to my embouchure)

Strength of breath

Profile of attack

I believe this is the biggest difficulty in conducting a controlled experiment. The skill level of the player probably makes a huge difference here. In one John Neptune video I've seen he does some work on a new flute, plays a few notes, and confidently states the he knows the reason he can't get some of the notes is because of the flute and not him. I certainly couldn't do that.

However, the technology to get the human element out of the whole embouchure issue exists, even though it might not be available to us. It's demonstrated here in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dLBtpKn47o

So, while the ideal experiment would be to tighten up the tolerances some and getting the flute playing robot to play the two almost identical shakuhachi, I believe the previously proposed experiment of getting Colyn to make some flutes as close as possible as far as dimensions are concerned and getting them to some pro players willing to participate would go very far.

For instance, if our participating pro players (and audience) determined that there is no difference in the sound or playability of the two materials, Benade has won hands down because even with the problem that "a few thousandths difference isn't identical" present, the flutes sounded the same. It would also assure Colyn that his tolerances of a few thousandths produces reasonably identical flutes.

On the other hand, if our pro experiment participants said the two flutes of different materials sounded different, it wouldn't be difficult throw a couple more flutes of the same materials as the first two into the mix. Then if our pro participants said that even the two flutes of the same material sounded different, we know we have a problem creating identical flutes with the tolerances we have the ability to machine them to.

If the two flutes of the same material do not sound any different, Colyn can be assured that his tolerances produce reasonably identical flutes and the "different materials sound different" crowd have one decent experiment to support their argument.

Last edited by radi0gnome (2011-01-23 09:58:08)


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#35 2011-01-23 10:43:09

Jim Thompson
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From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

I wonder what long time instrument manufacturers would have to say on this issue. You know companies like Selmer or Buffet have been batting this issue around for a hundred years or better. They do take great concern over the material their instruments are made of. For example, Buffet now offers their R-13 (top pro model) in traditional grenadilla and in a composite material they call their Green Line. People I consider to be experts say they are as good as the wooden ones. I've heard some people say they are better. Buffet spent a long time and a lot of money developing this material. If the material doesn't make a difference why did they spend so much effort and expense to develope it? If it was strictly about shape couldn't you use any old thing?


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#36 2011-01-23 13:45:00

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Jim Thompson wrote:

If it was strictly about shape couldn't you use any old thing?

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4569706692_d8251dedbe.jpg
tp-shk8_full by aaponivi, on Flickr


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#37 2011-01-23 14:30:45

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Jim Thompson wrote:

If it was strictly about shape couldn't you use any old thing?

The word 'marketing' comes to mind....


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#38 2011-01-23 18:04:55

oceanica
Member
Registered: 2009-06-07
Posts: 46

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Hmmm.  I see I have left this fire untended too long.  First, those of us very familiar with science can understand the arguments, the condescending attitude is annoying.  Edoan in particular.  My brother is a sound engineer, I only stated this because he has a pretty good spectral analysis program, which, by the way, revealed the shakuhachi to be certainly the most complex instrument I had in my house the last time he was here.
Toby, you seem to make the argument for different materials making a difference in sound as well as against ( again, the condescention could be left behind ),  After all, I did not say HOW this happened.  Porosity, density, molecular structure, etc. are all inherent properties of different materials.  See item 2. of your explanation on 01-07-2011.  I wonder about wall vibration, if one can actually feel it while playing is it actually less than millionth of a meter while actually playing -- has that experiment been done?
Dismissing some of the ideas out of hand seems to go against the science some demand, also, it would be nice to cite any study referred to, I have heard the " there was a famous study..." or " studies show " line way too many times, If there is a citation, and we can actually evaluate materials and methods, we can conclude whether the study cited is flawed.  The wine study mentioned was one such flawed study.
Also, in my admittedly subjective experience, different woods contributed to a larger variation in tone than the shape of the utaguchi. 
Lastly, I did not state that this was an objective opinion, we simply removed as many variables as we could at the time, this is not the same as objectivity.  Sound, as heard by the human ear will ALWAYS be a subjective experience.  This does not invalidate the experience.  Therefore, I would suggest, that if one hears a difference, there is a difference for said individual at that time. 
Colyn's offer is indeed generous, I would suggest a change to take variables of embouchure and utaguchi out of the experiment, use native american flutes, the fipple and associated parts could be pretty consistent.
As to marketing, why would a manufacturer spend the time and money to research different materials, just use a material one deems suitable and invent the the marketing around that....
Lastly, since we are, by definition, dealing with subjectivity, this makes the hypothesis ultimately unprovable unless one can remove all variables except only the differences in materials, which may be impossible.  Thus, perception, in this instance, may end up being reality. 
Have fun!

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#39 2011-01-23 18:27:32

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Jim Thompson wrote:

Buffet spent a long time and a lot of money developing this material. If the material doesn't make a difference why did they spend so much effort and expense to develope it? If it was strictly about shape couldn't you use any old thing?

Suggesting that the material doesn't make a difference in the sound does not rule out the possibility that the choice of material could make a great difference in manufacturing instruments to a precise standard--making virtually identical instruments.


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#40 2011-01-23 20:26:26

Alan Adler
Member
From: Los Altos, California
Registered: 2009-02-15
Posts: 78

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Hi All,

A few more comments.

I do not try for exact repeatability of embouchure when comparing different instruments.  Rather I adjust my embouchure and blowing technique - seeking the best tone I can produce with each instrument.  Several months ago I added a section to my flute diary where I write a few sentences about which embouchure sounded best for each of my flutes.  I find it interesting but not entirely repeatable.  Sometimes new variations work well.

In addition to the comments on picking the flute to suit the composition, I would like to add:

I often prefer my bright or reedy (smaller bore) flutes in rooms which have less sound reflection.  These same flutes can sound a bit harsh in more reflective rooms.  Also my taste varies.  So I enjoy having a variety of flutes to choose from.  And of course timbre isn't solely dependent on the instrument - we can vary it greatly with our technique.

Best,

Alan

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#41 2011-01-23 21:13:35

Toby
Shakuhachi Scientist
From: out somewhere circling the sun
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 405

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Jim Thompson wrote:

I wonder what long time instrument manufacturers would have to say on this issue. You know companies like Selmer or Buffet have been batting this issue around for a hundred years or better. They do take great concern over the material their instruments are made of. For example, Buffet now offers their R-13 (top pro model) in traditional grenadilla and in a composite material they call their Green Line. People I consider to be experts say they are as good as the wooden ones. I've heard some people say they are better. Buffet spent a long time and a lot of money developing this material. If the material doesn't make a difference why did they spend so much effort and expense to develope it? If it was strictly about shape couldn't you use any old thing?

Greenline clarinets are made of a polycarbonate impregnated with grenadilla powder. It is basically just plastic, but Buffet would have big trouble if it was just shiny old black plastic like every student's Chinese beginner clarinet. They don't want it to look or feel like plastic, even though it is. The Greenline clarinets are a perfect example of the fact that material doesn't matter. Some cheap plastic sounds just as good as rare and expensive grenadilla, and in fact is better because it has much better dimensional stability. I have a wooden R13 and would just as soon it were Greenline.

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#42 2011-01-23 22:29:40

Toby
Shakuhachi Scientist
From: out somewhere circling the sun
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 405

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

oceanica wrote:

Hmmm.  I see I have left this fire untended too long.  First, those of us very familiar with science can understand the arguments, the condescending attitude is annoying.  Edoan in particular.  My brother is a sound engineer, I only stated this because he has a pretty good spectral analysis program, which, by the way, revealed the shakuhachi to be certainly the most complex instrument I had in my house the last time he was here.
Toby, you seem to make the argument for different materials making a difference in sound as well as against ( again, the condescention could be left behind ),  After all, I did not say HOW this happened.  Porosity, density, molecular structure, etc. are all inherent properties of different materials.  See item 2. of your explanation on 01-07-2011.  I wonder about wall vibration, if one can actually feel it while playing is it actually less than millionth of a meter while actually playing -- has that experiment been done?
Dismissing some of the ideas out of hand seems to go against the science some demand, also, it would be nice to cite any study referred to, I have heard the " there was a famous study..." or " studies show " line way too many times, If there is a citation, and we can actually evaluate materials and methods, we can conclude whether the study cited is flawed.  The wine study mentioned was one such flawed study.
Also, in my admittedly subjective experience, different woods contributed to a larger variation in tone than the shape of the utaguchi. 
Lastly, I did not state that this was an objective opinion, we simply removed as many variables as we could at the time, this is not the same as objectivity.  Sound, as heard by the human ear will ALWAYS be a subjective experience.  This does not invalidate the experience.  Therefore, I would suggest, that if one hears a difference, there is a difference for said individual at that time. 
Colyn's offer is indeed generous, I would suggest a change to take variables of embouchure and utaguchi out of the experiment, use native american flutes, the fipple and associated parts could be pretty consistent.
As to marketing, why would a manufacturer spend the time and money to research different materials, just use a material one deems suitable and invent the the marketing around that....
Lastly, since we are, by definition, dealing with subjectivity, this makes the hypothesis ultimately unprovable unless one can remove all variables except only the differences in materials, which may be impossible.  Thus, perception, in this instance, may end up being reality. 
Have fun!

Condescension is at least somewhat in the eye of the beholder. I'm not trying to be condescending, but sometimes one butts up against rather ingrained and unexamined prejudices. If I am not dealing with those politely enough, my apologies.

As Popper points out, science can never prove anything definitively, it can just disprove something. Except in the world of mathematics, proofs are impossible. That being said, a lot of very smart people have been trying very hard with clever experiments to disprove the hypothesis that materials do not make a difference, and all have failed.

Of course all materials have different properties, but not all material properties are significant in respect to the question at hand. For instance brass has a different color than silver, but I don't think that anyone wants to argue that color of material makes a difference to sound. Similarly we must consider each material property and in what range it is significant, and in respect to what.

The basic analysis is pretty simple: we have some air molecules banging around, and how they bang around in response to an excitation (apart from the actual properties of those molecules) is determined by the container which encloses them. The fundamental thermodynamics of this is pretty well understood, and that understanding works pretty well in describing the behavior of the world down to the subatomic level. We can pretty well assume that what is known about the behavior of the interactions of materials and gasses--if it works for F-35s and B-2 stealth bombers--will work for a bamboo tube.

So we have a container that interacts with the air and influences its behavior. The salient question is which properties of the container actually have an effect on the the behavior of the air. Color, for instance, does not. What does, it turns out is the shape of the container, and the smoothness of the walls. Thermal conductivity also has a small influence.

Now that we know what we are looking for, we can design tests for these parameters. For instance, wall smoothness matters because there is a boundary layer where air molecules are slowed by contact with the wall, and transfer energy to the wall as heat. This is not trivial; a full 99% of the input energy is lost to the walls in this way, only 1% actually makes it out as sound. There have been measurements dealing with the microporosity of wood and its effects (as compared to a smooth material like plastic or metal) . It turns out that the cellular structure of wood (when it is polished smooth) could lead to acoustic losses of 2 dB. This is just on the edge of perception. It is unclear whether a single coat of urushi would completely seal the micropores in bamboo, or even out surface irregularities, but certainly a well made jiari should have similar smoothness to metal or plastic, minimizing acoustic losses.

The question of shape is interesting, in regards to vibration of the walls. First, let's deal with the question of vibration of the walls actually creating sound. AFAIK no one has ever done sensitive tests on shakuhachi, but there have been a number of tests of thick-bodied wooden instruments, and in all cases the actual sound radiated by the body of the instruments is way below the threshold of perception when compared to the intensity of sound from the air column. Many people claim to feel the flute vibrate, but it takes care not to confuse what you are feeling through your fingertips with what you are feeling in the flute body.

However the second question is about whether vibration of the walls might actually appear to the air column as a local enlargement of the bore at the point of vibration, and how much this might affect the sound. There has been controversy over this point, but the latest careful research indicates that even when the walls vibrate quite significantly, it has no effect on the sound except in the most extreme cases, where it affects tone color at a few specific frequencies. And this was with an oval tube only 15 micrometers thick.

So what other ways could material affect sound? Let's discuss your ideas.

Toby

Last edited by Toby (2011-01-23 22:31:22)

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#43 2011-01-24 09:37:25

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

For reference purposes:

micrometer

A micrometer (sometimes expressed using the obsolete term, micron ), is one-millionth of a meter and can also be expressed as:

    * 10 -6 meter
    * One thousandth of a millimeter
    * One 25-thousandth of an inch

The micrometer is a unit of measure for the core in optical fiber , for which the most common diameter is 62.5 micrometers. It is also used to measure the line width on a microchip . Intel's Pentium 4 microprocessors are built using 0.18 or 0.13 micrometer line widths. AMD's Athlon uses a 0.18 line width.

A human hair is said to be about 50 micrometers wide.


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#44 2011-01-24 09:46:07

baian
Member
Registered: 2006-03-28
Posts: 83

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

so are we back to the shape makes the difference, the materials not so much ?

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#45 2011-01-24 16:48:24

oceanica
Member
Registered: 2009-06-07
Posts: 46

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Ed I know what a micrometer is, and I used the same terminology that Toby did to avoid confusion. 
Toby, thanks for the reply, I appreciate your sensitivity and willingness to be open minded.  I have found at least one paper that would seem to contradict your thoughts regarding wall vibration affecting sound -- at least in the upper harmonics.  I need a bit more time and will respond. 
Regarding the post that restarted this:  Please note that we all agree that bore profile is the single biggest influence on sound in a woodwind instrument, by far. 
I am simply pointing out that in a particular situation, where a least some variables are somewhat controlled, those of us present do notice a difference in tone quality when different woods are used to make the shakuhachi ( yes I know Ken, GO PACK!! ). 
Back soon.....

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#46 2011-01-24 19:26:54

Karmajampa
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From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

What always gets overlooked is what Toby describes in No.2 the surface of the bore.
Different materials will provide a different bore surface, some more absorbent, some more reflective. Same bore profile, same player profile different material, different wall surface, different sound.

Here I am in the "material makes a difference" camp.
I have tried this roughly by using a glass bore surface.

Consider a room, walls tiled, the reflection property is high, line the surfaces with wallpaper, the reflective property drops, virtually the same room, only change being the surface.

Woods and bamboos will give a similar reflective property, line the wood with resin and it will change, plastic, metal and glass will sound brighter than wood.

K.


Kia Kaha !

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#47 2011-01-24 20:26:15

Toby
Shakuhachi Scientist
From: out somewhere circling the sun
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 405

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Reflective is a bit different that what happens inside a bore, because inside a bore we are not at ambient pressure, but the illustration is good in its way. It is more about what happens to the air molecules when they get dragged across the wall surface, and since 99% of the input power is lost this way, it is important. Nederveen describes a situation in which a manufacturer of recorders reported that flutes that absorbed more paraffin and were heavier had a stronger low end and that proved to be the case, but it turned out that the likely reason was that those flutes ended up with a bore in which the micropores were more filled with paraffin, making the bore smoother and increasing the low end 2-3 dB.

It is important to be specific when we talk about the effect of materials. There is an important secondary effect on bore smoothness, especially with organic materials. That being said, if you could reproduce the microscopic properties of wood inside a thin metal tube, it should sound the same as the wooden bore, but of course it would feel quite different, and this is another important point.

John Coltman did an classic experiment with three flutes. He manufactured similar, very short heads out of delrin, and then attached them to tubes of silver, copper and wood, and asked some flute players to try them. Almost every player who tried them had definite preferences, and could describe the difference in the sound and response. He then put the three on a spindle in the dark, and asked the players to try one, then spin the spindle and try to find the same flute again. None could do so, and they were nonplussed to find that those clear differences they perceived were illusory.

Playing an instrument and our perception of that action combine many sensory experiences, and the final sound is only one thing that forms our impression of "how the instrument sounds". This is not to say that in most cases there is not a difference in sound, based on the bore smoothness or the geometry, but the impression of that is often heavily amplified by other factors, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the sound: weight, for instance, is a good example of a factor that makes one instrument feel different from another.

I would also like to point out to oceanica that "some variables somewhat controlled" doesn't really cut it. As long as there are at least two variables uncontrolled then it becomes impossible to tell which is causing what. You can't be just a little bit pregnant...

Oh, and I would SO love to see that paper.

Last edited by Toby (2011-01-25 08:12:36)

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#48 2011-01-25 00:18:14

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Do materials used affect sound?

oceanica wrote:

Ed I know what a micrometer is...

Perhaps there are at least one or two other people present who do not...


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#49 2011-01-25 16:39:38

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

Toby wrote:

John Coltman did an classic experiment with three flutes. He manufactured similar, very short heads out of delrin, and then attached them to tubes of silver, copper and wood, and asked some flute players to try them. Almost every player who tried them had definite preferences, and could describe the difference in the sound and response. He then put the three on a spindle in the dark, and asked the players to try one, then spin the spindle and try to find the same flute again. None could do so, and they were nonplussed to find that those clear differences they perceived were illusory.

The Coltman paper is delightful.

https://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Coltman/Papers.html

It makes me wonder, though, what kind of effect it has on a human being to be told that he would be confined in a dark room with a spindle and three flutes not to mention that he had to play them all and make definitive judgements that would be compared to others' definitive judgments?

Stress, claustrophobia, test anxiety, fear of competition, fear of spindles? These need to be factored into the tests. Initially we could administer basic personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test (MBPTI) to arrive at some neutral personality baseline among the testers.

Then we could follow that one up with the Leary Interpersonal Behavior Test (LIBT). This latter given only because it would add to data about fears of confinement, not to mention fears of having your Hawaiian Punch spiked with hallucinogenic drugs (LSD, MDMA, PCP, TVP).

Finally our flute testers should be hooked up to an Electroencephalogram (EEG) machine to measure differences in electrical brian activity and an Electrocardiogram (EKG) to detect symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia, tachycardia or heart attack (SCA). This latter test would prove useful in case it is later discovered that differing heart rhythms would interfere with the sonic spectroscopics of multi-faceted mirrored disco balls (SSMFMDB).

That should make your test parameters pretty much complete.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#50 2011-01-25 17:39:16

No-sword
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From: Kanagawa
Registered: 2008-07-09
Posts: 115
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Re: Do materials used affect sound?

"Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about... PVC."
"PVC?"
"Yeah."
"Let me tell you about PVC..."


Matt / no-sword.jp

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