My Kingdom For An Acoustic      11 January 2022

A few months into lockdown, playing the instrument only in my house, and my sound had changed.  You need a concert hall, a room, to make the sound – you need space to work with reverberation, high ceilings and reflective surfaces; the physicality of sound projection in a 1000+ seater venue is muscular and powerful.  A bedroom, a bathroom, a hallway – enclosed in here, the sound diminishes to the smallness required to fill up these spaces.

I started playing outside.

Playing outside is horrible – 1. You have to use a “stunt” clarinet i.e. a plastic one, as you don’t want your sensitive, seasoned wooden instrument to be damaged by damp or extremes of temperature.  What’s the difference in feel and response?  It’s equivalent to driving a Nissan Micra v. a sports car.  I can’t give you the scientific formulae for the acoustics, I can just tell you that the plastic doesn’t let you feel anything, it drops out on you the moment you push any boundaries.  2.  Outside, the sound doesn’t have the right surfaces to rebound against, so you’re playing into an acoustic void rather than the perfect reverberant shoebox you want.  Unless you play into a cliff (with a roof and walls), of course, or a cave…….   3.  You get cold fingers.   4.  Oh yes, and you are invading other people’s noise-space without asking them.

In respect of no. 4 – loveliness happened.  I found that folk actively made their way over to listen, in spite of my efforts to find unpeopled performance spots.  I was playing music that had a connection or meaning in the location, and that clearly meant something to these listeners too.

The beginnings of an idea came – to make something more of this project.  Hence grew “Jo’s Mtb Tunes”.