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# Crystal woodwind reeds

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A woodwind produces sound due to vibration of a thin wooden (cane?) reed in the mouth of the player. But when one thinks of things that vibrate, wood is not right up there. No-one rubs the rim of a wooden tankard and produces a note. But a crystal wine glass? One need only touch it lightly to produce beautiful tones.

I propose that woodwind reeds cut from crystal would produce pure and beautiful notes that so far wooden reeds could only hint might exist.

 — bungston, Apr 22 2013

Clarinet acoustics http://www.phys.uns...rinetacoustics.html

I suspect the reeds would shatter too easily. Resonance is well-known to shatter other crystals, after all.
 — Vernon, Apr 23 2013

 Interesting idea. It's amazing that after playing the clarinet for 26 years I have never seriously considered the detailed physics behind how it actually works.

 It seems at first that using crystal for the reed would actually be very bad. An ideal reed has no natural oscillation frequency. The squeak from an inexperienced clarinet player is the resonant frequency of the reed. This undesired oscillation is damped by the lip of the player. The ideal reed forms a pressure sensitive valve with no resonance of its own. When the pressure from the standing wave in the body of the instrument is high, the reed opens slightly allowing more air to be blown into the instrument. When the pressure is low, the reed closes slightly, reducing the airflow, thus amplifying the standing wave.

As described in the link, the tone changes based on volume because the response of this valve is not linear. If a valve could be constructed out of crystal that had a natural frequency above the useable range of the instrument and had a very flat curve, it might work well. I could image that such a valve, if designed well, might not wear out as fast as a reed.
 — scad mientist, Apr 23 2013

Of course I don't think you could make a drop in reed replacement. I think you'd need to redesign the mouthpiece.
 — scad mientist, Apr 23 2013

There are plenty of instruments with metal reeds.
 — pocmloc, Apr 23 2013

Metal reed instruments (accordion, harmonica etc.) work differently; they sound at the resonant frequency of the reed (unlike the clarinet).
 — spidermother, Apr 23 2013

 I knew that but I was too lazy to type it. Also I secretly hoped that metal beating reeds existed.

Most Scottish bagpipes nowadays have plastic reeds.
 — pocmloc, Apr 23 2013

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