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3 woods from Menorca for the Arixa Clarinets barrels (II)
In the previous article I explained all the research and investigation I had to carry out until we were finally able to prepare the first try outs with three typical woods from Menorca:
- Mastich tree (lentisco in Spanish)
- Almond tree (almendro in Spanish)
- Evergreen buckthorn (aladierno in Spanish)
Apart from all this information, I also attached a video where one could appreciate the sound of the Arixa Clarinets Handcrafted model barrel -made in Mastich tree, almond tree and evergreen buckthorn wood-. To compare the sound of the three barrels I played on my Buffet RC clarinet.
In this part of the article on woods from Menorca, I am going to talk about my personal impressions playing with the first barrels made out of wild olive tree (a traditional wood from Menorca) at our artisanal workshop Arixa Clarinets. For these tests I play on my RC Buffet clarinet.
The first sensations are really good. The wild olive tree wood offers a warm and full-bodied sound.
*Wild olive tree wood with a warm (illustrated in red) and full-bodied sound (wide base)
The feeling is similar to the one I have with the barrels made in evergreen buckthorn wood or almond tree wood, but the wild olive tree wood seems to have some sort of “cushion” that supports the sound throughout the different registers of the instrument.
*Other Menorcan woods with a warm (illustrated in orange), but less bodied sound (narrow base)
The wild olive tree wood offers an easy blending sound, allowing the clarinet to integrate its timbre with the rest of instruments in the orchestra and it produces a noble and pure sound which reminds you of early instruments.
The colour of the timbres of the different instruments in the woodwind section of the orchestra blend into one another. For example, pistachio green, would be the timbre of the flute: brown, the bassoon; red, the clarinet; maroon, the oboe; and orange, the corn anglais.
It has an easy sound projection, but the fact of producing a warmer sound, makes you feel that it does not project in the same way as granadillo, for example, a very well-known wood that offers one of the best sound projections. You feel as if the sound comes out with less presence or in a less direct way.
I would say granadillo wood has a more powerful sound than wild olive tree wood. For example it would be nice to play the Mozart clarinet concerto or the Brahms quintet, but not powerful enough for the Weber clarinet concertos.
The responsiveness of the wild olive tree wood is good, but I think granadillo is superior in this aspect.
In my opinion, the flexibility it offers is just right to play in the orchestra.
This wood offers a wonderful resonance, maybe slightly less than the one that cocobolo wood offers.
So, to conclude this article, I would like to say that, generally speaking, I have had a very good impression with the four types of Menorcan wood I have tested and I must admit that I feel especially comfortable with the wild olive tree wood.
I opine that the two parameters one can compare in a more objective way are the colour and the shape of sound, so I will be talking about them in the next article of my blog.
I think other parameters that clarinetists look for such as easy sound emission, equality of sound throughout the different registers of the instrument, tuning…depend more on the interior design of the barrel and its exterior shape than on the type of wood used for its construction.
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