Sunday, September 18

Rare wired reeds!

Changing the background because the seasons have definitely changed here!

Telemann Flute Duets and metronome recording…

I have a couple of movements from Telemann’s flute duets coming, but there is a bit of difficulty in playing with myself….. mostly in terms of stable rhythm. I need to work with the metronome more because I rush some groupings and slouch on others… not in an artistic fashion either!

My solution is simple: the Zoom H4n has a built-in metronome that I can hear in my head-set when recording, but does not sound when playing back. The movements I chose sound fine in strict tempo – lots of room for dynamic expression – so I will do that for the experiment.

Wired Reeds… me?

I have tried several times in my life to use wire for my reeds to help control opening, stability, ease of playing and so on. My conclusion has always been that wire just doesn’t work. Well, things have changed!

Two of my reeds were “slipping” (sideways offset) quite horribly. I was going to break them, except they played rather well…. apart from choking as a result of slipping…  I decided to try using wire around them: for the first time in my life, this actually saved the reeds! Note that the purpose was to save already good reeds, wrecked by slipping: not to try to fix bad reeds!

European (short) Scrape – adaptive method

I read more and more questions about European scrape (I combine German, French and other short-scrapes because I explain the differences with methodology). Over the next several months, I hope to explore these questions and hopefully provide solid guidance. I am NOT Albrecht Mayer, I am NOT François Leleux and I am NOT the best reed maker to be found but I have done enough experiments to provide beginning guidelines for stable, well sounding and flexible reeds that are also easy to play.

IMG_6589 IMG_6576

(Click on the images below to open the REALLY big original pictures!)

To start off with, here are some pictures of very different reeds. They play differently, sound differently look different and this will help a discussion on how to get what you want with respect to the cane you are using. Be careful not to judge on what you see: later I will give sound clips on them and you might be surprized.

High-definition pictures:
much more revealing than backlighting!

Taking pictures of reeds is difficult! I have a fantastic high-definition (1080p) web-cam, but I can’t get as good pictures as my wife: she can handle lighting much better and faster to show the smallest details in the grains. I find this shows flaws in my scraping much more clearly than backlighting. If I can setup my web-cam to take good pictures, that will help my reed making quite a lot!

The really big images (on my wife’s Flickr account) shows scraping trends which you might think give horrible reeds… but all these reeds play very well. You might also think that the differences are so great I used different techniques or get really different results… actually, some that look the same play more differently!

In subsequent posts, I will provide crowing and sound tests on these reeds, compare the sounds, say what I like and dislike about them and perhaps “adjust” a few.


Emmanuel said...

Hi Robin :-)
I have a question (perhaps more for your wife?):
How did you do the lighting on those pictures? Is it normal three point lighting?


Emmanuel said...

Dear lord!!! That's an 18 megapixels camera you've got there!
Will I be able to make almost-as-good pictures with an 8MP or 10MP camera?

RobinDesHautbois said...

You can take excellent reed pictures with a web-cam or cell-phone camera.... provided you can get the lighting right... Lighting is REALLY hard! But I find that this kind of picture is more useful to reed making than backlighting: the grains tell much more than the shadows. My wife has done enough now to get this kind of picture in less than 10 minutes.... she is a pro!

The black-glass stove-top reflected some light (some spots were removed with picture software). The oven hood-fan has spot-lights but the most important were special LED diffuse lights I held up by hand. The idea is not to shine on the reeds directly (those pictures were useless) but to create the ambient light that will let the camera see the grains like our eyes see them.

I'm hoping to get a lighting setup for my high-def web-cam so I can use this kind of picture while reed-making. Backlighting is faster, so more useful, but sometimes I'm unsure of what to do and a good view of the grains makes the answer clear.