Understanding the physics of the clarinet
Where to start
Introduction to clarinet acoustics is just that, and a good place to start. (If you can't remember much about sound, try the introduction of How do woodwind instruments work?) If you strike a term or idea you don't know, try the Basics list on the navigation bar.
We use the NICTA-UNSW clarinet robot (which won an international competition for music robots) in much of our research, including studies of how breath pressure and embouchure affect tone, and how tonguing controls transients.
Data for each note: Acoustic response, Spectra, Sound files and Fingering
We have measured these for standard fingerings on a Bb clarinet: just click on the image above. For some notes, measurements on an A clarinet are available for comparison. The acoustic response tells us how easily the clarinet responds to every frequency. For explanations, see What is acoustic response and why is it important? See also What is a sound spectrum?
This site includes the results of Paul Dickens, a student completing his PhD in Music Acoustics, with contributions from Jane Cavanagh, Ryan France, John Tann and Joe Wolfe. Our collaborators include Mark O'Connor of The Woodwind Group and clarinettists Catherine McCorkill and Catherine Young. Thanks to Juliet Richters.
You can hear Catherine McCorkill play Stamitz.
Catherine Young plays Graphic Designs by Ronald Caravan.
The International Clarinet Association
A page of clarinet links.
Research and scholarship possibilities in music acoustics at UNSW