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Dear colleagues:

My saxophone and clarinet instructor tells me that the reason so many reeds perform poorly is that the quality of reed cane has deteriorated over the years due to over- harvesting - the demand is simply higher than the supply.

I can't find anything to substantiate his explanation - is this just another greybeard complaining that things aren't what they used to be, or is there some basis for fact? Arundo donax (the cane reed) is supposed to be fast growing - why would there be a supply issue? Or does the cane have to be a certain age before harvesting?
 

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Cane grows wild all over S. France and other geographical regions. It grows in ditches along the side of the road. It's not a forest product. The cane that grows wild is not harvested. Cane is a crop so it can't be over harvested. It is extremely renewable...frankly, it could be considered by some to be a weed (after all, an unwanted plant is called a weed).

The question of reeds in the past being better or worse than today can be debated all day. Your instructors explanation has no merit.
 

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Cane grows wild all over S. France and other geographical regions. It grows in ditches along the side of the road. It's not a forest product. The cane that grows wild is not harvested. Cane is a crop so it can't be over harvested. It is extremely renewable...frankly, it could be considered by some to be a weed (after all, an unwanted plant is called a weed).

The question of reeds in the past being better or worse than today can be debated all day. Your instructors explanation has no merit.
This wild cane that grows wild in France...do the ditch reeds opposed to the crop reeds explain Vandoren's inconsistency?
 

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Ridiculous statement by people who have no notion of agriculture (but claim knowledge about things like this all the same ) while even them could read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundo_donax

The Arundo Donax is officially classified as infesting crop ( wikipedia says ........” Arundo is a highly invasive plant in southwestern North American rivers”.......) and pretty difficult to get rid of ( one has to be very careful in removing it because even small bits of its rhizomes left in the soil will sprout a new plant, so by carelessly removing one plant you can actually produce more)

Which is the reason why it has spread easily (helped by the human hand that has always found a way to use it) around the world.


The plant is so invasive that it is actually used to fight off other invasive plants because it kills them all. It has a natural resistance to bugs of all kinds and growing it needs no pesticides!

It is grown abundantly (all over the world and not only in France, despite the Var country claiming they have the best varieties and largest crops, and it has been grown for thousands of years) and grows VERY quickly in every continent and its uses are way more complex than the reeds used by the shrinking number of reed instrument players (biofuel anyone?).

this is the ancient instrument called Launeddas played in Sardinia, they are made of cane and they have been used for thousands of years





 

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It's growing in my neighbor's yard. He cuts it down and it comes right back. I see it other places around town also.
It's about 8 feet tall and an inch in diameter with dull green leaves. Looks alot like bamboo.
 

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dry it two years and then you are ready to go

 

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Ridiculous statement by people who have no notion of agriculture (but claim knowledge about things like this all the same ) while even them could read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundo_donax

The Arundo Donax is officially classified as infesting crop ( wikipedia says ........” Arundo is a highly invasive plant in southwestern North American rivers”.......) and pretty difficult to get rid of ( one has to be very careful in removing it because even small bits of its rhizomes left in the soil will sprout a new plant, so by carelessly removing one plant you can actually produce more)

Which is the reason why it has spread easily (helped by the human hand that has always found a way to use it) around the world.


The plant is so invasive that it is actually used to fight off other invasive plants because it kills them all. It has a natural resistance to bugs of all kinds and growing it needs no pesticides!

It is grown abundantly (all over the world and not only in France, despite the Var country claiming they have the best varieties and largest crops, and it has been grown for thousands of years) and grows VERY quickly in every continent and its uses are way more complex than the reeds used by the shrinking number of reed instrument players (biofuel anyone?).

this is the ancient instrument called Launeddas played in Sardinia, they are made of cane and they have been used for thousands of years





Thanks for this bit of interesting musicalogical history Milandro, however, if I had was forced to listen to this guy for more than five minutes against my will he would be in the ER having those three reeds removed from high up in his nasal septum and I would be in jail for assault with arundo donax with intent to kill. I turned off that horrendous repetitive exercise on that totally annoying ancient brain-drill at 4:16, and the only reason it went on that long was that I was in the kitchen getting my coffee. Truthfully, it wouldn't be so bad if he would play an actual melody, but repeating licks endlessly on a high pitched instrument is more than most people can take. Didn't this guy ever hear about melody and harmonic cadence?
 

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the variations are minimalists ones but are there, remember that this music is either used for dancing or devotional purposes. Anyway it isn’t only this player but the nature of the beast

 

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the variations are minimalists ones but are there, remember that this music is either used for dancing or devotional purposes. Anyway it isn’t only this player but the nature of the beast

I guess I'm going to have to get an AK-47 to put these guys out of our misery.
 

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Why? I like it.

Well then you'll like this even more, for sure...put it on repeat so you can listen all day and night endlessly so you can your full dose of pleasure out the beautiful tonalities they play.

 

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Ever play a blade of grass? This is what this video sounds like.

Put a piece of grass in between the outer sides of your thumbs and press the sides together. Then blow through the opening and over the grass. :)

http://www.wikihow.com/Whistle-Using-Grass
:) should you ever try to play the launeddas you would rapidly find out how difficult an instrument that is, but you can try to play the same tunes on some grass, I would be very interested to hear that
 

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:) should you ever try to play the launeddas you would rapidly find out how difficult an instrument that is, but you can try to play the same tunes on some grass, I would be very interested to hear that
I believe it (it's hard to play). It looks like they're using "circular breathing" quite well too.
 

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yes, which is paramount to playing this ancient, probably prehistoric instrument.

Primitive though the launeddas certainly are, the music of Sardinia is known to belong to the wonders of the world and UNESCO has declared the polyphonic choir music of this incredible land Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Poliphony was developed in Sardinia much before many other places on earth, its music has certainly elements common to the work of some modern minimalistic composers
 

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I've been to two reed factories and they both told me the same story. You don't get the same product if it's grown in two different places just because it's the same species because the wind is very important.

Reed companies all used to own reed fields in the south of France but sold it to developers because the land became more valuable for growing condos thus they sold it and it was built upon. So, the reeds then had to be made with cane made from Argentina and a couple of other places which stinks.

So, why is the wind so important? Because what determines a reeds strength is not its cut but its density. When they make reeds, whether it’s a number one or a number five they make it and or cut it the exact same way. Then, they’re piled on top of a table and each one is put into a little box which has a spring in it; Maccaferri used to sell them. The spring bends the reed and measure how far it can bend the reed and that is what determines what strength it will be marked.

I remember when I had twenty boxes of the old brown box Rico reeds and EVERY single one worked and played for a month if I clipped it, sometimes longer. When I finally ran out I went and bought a new box. By then they box was orange and not a single reed worked, not a one. Phil Barone
 

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It would appear that at least one reed company sources its cane from the south of France. See below from 02:30 to 03:40.

 

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There are still a lot of reed fields in Southern France. I visited family about a year ago. I met a fellow who used to work for a reed company. He told me that a big reed company had recently bought up a lot of property in the region and was expanding their operations. He couldn't recall which company it was though.

It's possible that land in the region has become less valuable for development since the recession. It was also not a very sought after swath of land. While the south of France is very beautiful, there are areas....just like everywhere else that are far from sublime...fortunately the cane is not concerned with the view. Wish I knew which reed maker it was...it was in the Catalan region outside of Perpignan.
 

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Rico's best var Cane is used in its reserve reeds.....I would imagine that all of the big mfrs use their best cane in their most expensive reeds....would only stand to reason.

Dont know to what extent they grade it.
 
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