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Home Activities Seminar Series Alberto Muñoz Arancón: Searching indicators of reeds' quality through subjective and objective measurements

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Alberto Muñoz Arancón: Searching indicators of reeds' quality through subjective and objective measurements

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  • Seminar
When Nov 06, 2015
from 12:45 PM to 01:45 PM
Where A832, Elizabeth Wirth Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke St. West.
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The physics of sound production and musical quality of cane reed instruments strongly depends on the reed characteristics. The variability of the properties of cane reeds and their role in the instrument behavior and musical quality perception are to date not well understood.

A survey has been conducted to provide some insights into the musicians' perceived quality of reeds. Results of this survey show that only 30% of the reeds are perceived as good for concert, and 30% is discarded. The results show also that the main subjective parameters used by the musicians to classify the reeds according to their quality are the brightness and the ease of playing.

Some research has been done aiming to find objective parameters explaining the perceived differences of reed quality. A study measuring the reed parameters (stiffness, damping and mass) using vibroacoustic measurements on a bench shows the difference between different kinds of reeds in the bi-dimensional space formed by the brightness and the ease of playing, but cannot show the difference between reeds of the same kind that are perceived by musicians. Another study uses measurements done in real playing situation (pressure inside the mouthpiece and pressure in the musician's mouth) and the signal parameters of these measurements as objective parameters. A predictive model using 5 of these objective parameters explains 85 % of the differences in the brightness-ease of playing subjective space, the model remaining too complex.

A system enabling the measurement of the reed parameters in playing conditions has been developed. It uses an instrumented mouthpiece and an iterative method that allow estimating the cane reed equivalent parameters in playing conditions. Different physical models describing the reed tip movement are tested in the estimation method. The analysis of the results reveals that the complexity of the physical model describing the reed behavior must increase with dynamics (sound level). For medium level dynamics, the most relevant physical model assumes that the reed is an oscillator with non-linear stiffness and damping, the effect of mass (inertia) being very small. The system provides the measurement of the equivalent stiffness and damping of the reed in playing conditions accurately.



Alberto Muñoz Arancón is a 3rd year Ph.D student in the Musical Acoustics Research Group of the Laboratory of Acoustics of the University of Maine (LAUM, Le Mans, France). Born in Madrid (Spain), he performed his studies in Fundamental Physics in the Complutense University of Madrid and the Professional Degree in Classical Guitar, specialty of Composition, in the Arturo Soria Conservatory (Madrid). In 2012, he was granted with a scholarship that allowed him to participate in research about single reed instruments at the LAUM. One year after, he started his Ph.D on the search for indicators of reed quality through subjective and objective approaches. Today, he also studies jazz guitar in the Conservatory of Le Mans and plays saxophone in a World Music ensemble.


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